The following checklist is a rather detailed, point-by-point academic exercise to help you find the ideal mentor for you. This checklist is only an attempt to help bring clarity in defining the kind of person for whom you are looking.
But even before you start reading this checklist, let me suggest that what you’re really looking for is a person that you know cares for you, believes in you, and naturally encourages you. A good mentor is a person you enjoy being with, who has more experience than you have, and who would be happy to help you win in life. If you already have that person in mind, this checklist will only confirm your intuitive guess that this person would make a great mentor.
The checklist is also helpful if you have two or three mentors to consider, but cannot determine which one you will ask. The mentoring checklist can bring out a few fine points that may help you make your final decision.
Before you choose a mentor, check to see if s/he has these qualities:
Your Ideal Mentor Is…
- Honest With You
- A Model for You
- Deeply Committed to You
- Open and Transparent
Every mentor has struggles that the protégé never sees. The protégé might say with some hesitation, "My mentor can do this, but I don’t know if I’ll ever make it because I have problems with discipline (or doubt, or self-worth, or fatigue)." Ask your mentor to share her/his struggles, along with the success stories they re trying to teach.
- A Teacher
- One Who Believes in Your Potential
Your ideal mentor needs to be the kind of person who looks at you and says, "Yes, I think this person has tremendous potential. I think if I invest some of my life in this person, she/he has what it takes to make a real difference." Surprisingly, most Christian leaders with whom I have worked say they have never had a single person say to them, "You are a leader!"
- One Who Can Help You Define Your Dream and a Plan to Turn Your Dream into Reality
Once clear, the ideal mentor can help you decide which of these dreams seem realistic and which do not.
Note: Just because your mentor says you can or cannot achieve something doesn’t necessarily make it so. Your mentor is simply a human being trying her/his best to help you. Take their input seriously. The final decision, and responsibility, of the direction of your life obviously rests with you. Mentors are just there to help.
Once the realism factor has been established, she/he can help you develop a plan to move from where you are to where you ultimately dream of being.
- Successful in Your Eyes
You must feel that your mentor is the kind of person you would like to be like some day, in some ways.
- Open to Learning From You, As Well As Teaching You
Let’s say I, as your mentor, have a whole sack of oranges. You’re thirsty and I give you some of my oranges. Sooner or later you’ll want to give something back to me. You might say, "How about a tangerine from me?" If I say "No, thank you," that makes it seem as though what I give is valuable but what you give is not. It shuts off the chemistry. If I the mentor can learn from you, then suddenly mentoring becomes a two-way street. You think to yourself, "Hey, my mentor respects me" (and vice versa).
- Willing to Stay Primarily on Your Agenda, Not Her/His Own
In all of your analysis, be careful not to forget the simple truth that what you’re really looking for is a person who you know cares for you, believes in you, and encourages you. A good mentor is a person who you naturally enjoy being with, who has more experience than you have, who would be happy to help you win in life, to help you grow in sensitive areas most other friends simply "put up with" on a day to day basis. If you have found this person you have found a mentor.
From Mentoring: How to Find a Mentor and How to Beome One, published by Aylen Publishing. Copyright © 2005, Bobb Biehl. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.