Mentoring and Dating.

We all have dreams and desires for our lives. We hope and believe that they will come true and our lives will get better, but why do some people get their desires fulfilled and others don’t? Why do we sometimes get the things we desire but don’t get them as often as we desire?

Hold that thought.

It is a common trend, which may have even become a pattern that most of us start out strong early in the year but after the first few days, weeks or maybe even months, we come to a place of frustration or distraction then we lose interest and determination. For some of us, at certain points in our lives which we could have considered pivotal, certain inspiring factors and occurrences bring us to a point of resolve that makes us declare, “Enough is enough!” We then begin to map out goals and strategic plans but two to three months down the line, sometimes maybe even within the first two weeks, our recently squared shoulders droops again and we are back right where we started.

Has this ever happened to you?

Now, being a professional in the banking industry, I had so much dreams and hopes when I got in. I had high hopes about promotion; I had hope in my ability to succeed and in the system to reward my effort, I thought I would hit the senior manager rank in a few years. As much as I wanted to succeed in the banking industry, I also had other things I was passionate about, like the beauty and the network marketing industry.

I started working towards my dreams by enrolling in the National Institute of Information Technology (NIIT) at the same time in a make-up training class with House of Tara in Nigeria. I also got signed up with a world class multi-level marketing company which brought in so much activity and confusion in my life.

Your guess is as good as mine.

I failed woefully in all of them and the reason is obvious. I was Jack of all trades, master of none and it was a bitter experience.

I mean, was it the pressure I was constantly facing at work? Having to deal with a boss who misunderstood me in every way possible that she voiced it. I also had to deal with senior colleagues who believed there was so much hierarchy on the job that an entry level Executive Assistant should not question processes. This really happened to me and it was not as simple as the black and white on this screen looks.

Before I knew it, my self-esteem, courage and boldness began to dwindle. I started noticing some heart palpitations whenever I was on my way to work which gradually developed into full blown Panic Attack. Through it all I still had to keep it together in order to attend to customers as effectively as I could–I smiled but no one knew what was happening to me mentally. I know my experience is probably not the worst you have ever heard and I know that many professionals deal with the pressure from work and from the home front. But it was my struggle and it is still the struggle of many people.

I believe that if someone had provided me with the knowledge I have now on mentoring about a decade ago, I would have been on the high flyer list. Mentoring has made me focused, diligent and very importantly, helped me consistently reach my goals as well as teach many people how to reach theirs.

There is a saying that if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go with a team. Now I will make a conjunction of both and add something to it: if you want to go fast and far, find a mentor. In Nigerian parlance, we would say, “follow who know road” that is, follow someone who has directions to where you are going.

I cannot overemphasize the importance of finding a mentor, it will save you years of pain, hurt, failure and heartache especially as you build your life and your career. You do not need to put yourself through years of trial and error to reach your goals. Most times, people who have had all their dreams come to pass are people who found those who have been where they desire to go and leveraged on their experience.

To go fast and far, you will need to see further than your peers and gain the courage and psychological permission to be all that you ever dreamed standing ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS.

I am sure you must be asking now, “So What do I do to Attract my Mentor?”

“Don’t worry, I heard you.”

To attract someone, you want as a mentor, you basically woo them. Woo here means gaining the attention of your mentor but in a professional manner.

I have had so many people come to my inbox asking me to be their mentor. People I have never had any form of dealings with. A random “hello, I want you to be my mentor”, will not get your potential mentors attention. Many mentors will not even respond to that kind of message. Others may just politely engage with you and eventually turn you down. How many random, “I want you to be my wife” do you respond to? As a man who wants to settle down and build a home, do you just walk up to any lady and propose? It is always better to attract your mentor than to ask someone whom you do not know to be your mentor just because you can see a level of success in their lives.

Attracting the right mentor may take a bit of time, it is not something you rush into especially if you value yourself and your relationships.

A guy will not walk up to a lady on the street and ask “Will you marry me?” No way! If he does, his marriage is headed for disaster. There are basic things a guy needs to know and do before going into a relationship.
Same way mentorship is a relationship and should be done right from the onset.

Here are some tips:

Select from the best

If a lady has so many suitors, what she does is to look into her life and her future to see the man that fits into it. She will not accept a random proposal neither will a guy propose to a casual acquaintance.
To select a mentor, the first thing to do is to write out the goal you would want to achieve or the skill you want to become an expert. This will guide your selection criteria. You already know there is no pressure to choose everyone who appears as a mentor.

If you are an entrepreneur, a start-up or you deal in a youth inclined business, you can use Facebook. If you are into politics, you can use Twitter, if your business is about women empowerment, Instagram and Facebook would be good for you and if you are career inclined, you will need to use LinkedIn.

• Dress up

Anyone who desires the attention of someone (man/woman) will dress up to attract the person. Put on some nice clothes, shoes, bags and wear nice cologne.
To attract your mentor, you need to dress up with good knowledge, skill, talent, goals, right attitude and attention to work. These are things a mentor finds irresistible. You may not be a total package of all these but have some ‘material’ they can work with.

• Zoom in

A guy who has selected the lady whom he feels is a good fit for marriage, would start drawing close and getting familiar with the lady he has chosen. If he has narrowed down his list of female friends to two ladies, it is in the process of getting close that he will be able to finally make his choice. Zooming in is good because you may begin to see some things that you are not comfortable with.
What you as a mentee should be doing here is to start getting familiar with your mentor. This does not mean you should send them a message and say, I like you or ask them if they will mentor you.

Writing them is not a bad idea but let your message be sent at the right time. A congratulatory message is ideal or you can write to let them know how their work has blessed you. It is not a lie. If you have chosen this mentor, then he/she must have influenced you in an important way. Your message should be precise and straight to the point, do not beat about the bush.
If they have a business, check it out online, find out their vision, mission, values etc. This will help your conversation when you meet, let your first impression last. People love hearing that their effort is paying off.

• Proximity

This may not be possible for everyone because of the distance, especially if your mentor is not in your country or continent. Relationships are closer when people are together and see each other from time to time. This is why I suggest for starters that your mentor should at least be in the same country as you. It is easier to travel out of state than out of the country. After following one of my mentors for a long time, we finally met at the beginning of the year, 2019. I had to travel to his city for a meet up. I am sure, you would go out of your way, travel a long distance just to meet the woman or the man you love.

• Be Resourceful

The man or woman who always comes to mind when someone is preparing to settle into marriage, is the one who is very resourceful. The one who helps you sort out a problem, goes the extra mile to assist you or makes you feel valued. In Nigerian parlance, we ask “how many yards is the husband material or wife material?”, which means “how resourceful is the person?”

When you add value to someone, you stay top of their mind. Stay positive so your mind can find ways to add value. I remember coming for our meet up two hours before time, helping to clean and arrange the place. I wasn’t there to cross my legs. I saw a task and I quickly went to work. It would not have been possible if I arrived late.

• Gift

Gift is one of the five love languages in the book written by Gary Chapman. I love gifts, receiving and giving gifts is my way of expressing love.

In my first meet up with one of my mentor, I knew we were many mentees and those seeking to be mentees. To stay top of his mind, I went with a gift. The bible says, “The gift of a man makes way for him”. Interpreting this literally, a gift no matter how small, simply says, “I thought of you”. I was so happy when out of the over 30 people that showed up, I was the only one with a gift. It scored me great points.

• Warm your way in

The best way to get into your mentor’s space and keep you in his mind is to warm your way through and you can do that by looking through the subject matter in which you want the mentor to help you with and the difficulty you experience in that area and ask questions.
If it is a career mentor, ask him/her questions where you are facing difficulty in your career and when they proffer a solution quickly get to work. Do not over think it, do the work or task as he has advised so that when next you have an opportunity to meet or communicate you will not ask same question rather another question that is a challenge to you. If you experience some challenges carrying out the task he gave you, after exploring many available options, you can get back to your mentor on the challenges you encountered. These conversations has unofficially launched you into a mentoring relationship but you need to be intentional to get more from it.

A lady chatted me up on some career issues and training she can start off. I advised her on some free and paid training to enrol in. Guess what? After almost seven months she has not done any. Obviously, I would not get myself into that type of energy waste again.

• Show some results

My husband was my spiritual mentor before we got married. He used to say he loved how I always used the knowledge I got from his teaching to produce result in my life.

If your mentor is like mine who mentors hundreds of people, then you would know that you have to be serious to grab his attention. The best way to grab a mentor’s attention is to show that you are not an idle person seeking a magician to wave a wand at you which is very key. You need to always maximize your time with your mentor hence you must have something to always reflect your growth, stemming from their invested counsel and guidance. For instance: projects, initiatives, events, practical application of corrections and things you are working on.

• Host your mentor

If you get the chance to host that lady or guy, would you not?
You can set up an event and invite your prospective mentor as a guest speaker. Follow up to ensure the mentor marks this out on their calendar. Give them a special treat after the event. If you cannot host an event yourself but you belong to a group that holds events and you know this mentor can do justice to the topic, put in his name with good words so he is selected. A friend of mine put in her mentor’s name for TedEx and she was chosen. Her very first TedEx talk. Imagine how she must have felt? That will always keep her on her relevant people list. I also know someone whose very first toastmaster’s appearance was initiated by the mentee.

If you apply what you have got from here then you, my friend, will stand on the shoulders of giants.

Excerpt from the book, On The Shoulders of Giants.

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