In the current work environment, everyone who is serious about advancing their career appears to go in search of someone to mentor them and guide them in that direction.  Conversely, it seems that being a mentor has also become a big trend, growing someone worthy into a better version of themselves and seeing them be the best that they can be is something that many achievers regard highly as a measure of their own success.
 
It is important to understand that mentorship doesn’t always have to come from one source, there are many traits that mentors offer and if you are going in search of a mentor, you will not necessarily find all of these traits in one person, but might have to have a couple of different people that you learn from.
 
If you don’t yet have a mentor, perhaps make this a goal in 2016 and add it to your list of resolutions.
 
When looking for a mentor, keep these traits in the back of your mind and if the candidate ticks most of the boxes, they would probably make a great mentor.

Confidence and variation

You need to find a mentor that has tons of confidence, someone who is not threatened by your will to succeed and your search for growth.  It is also often beneficial to look for someone that is not in the same industry as you as they may view you as competition and this may hinder the mentoring process.  Someone who works in a different industry to you may also give you better insight, as they are not biased in any way.

Generosity

You need to look for someone that has a generosity of spirit – someone that is willing to invest the time and energy that is required to mentor you.  Mentoring is an act of kindness and a cutthroat businessperson is less likely to give willingly than someone who believes in paying it forward and is truly invested in making a difference.   If you are lucky enough to find a mentor with this quality, be sure not to take advantage of their good faith and to keep mentoring sessions short and to the point.

Self-Awareness

Sometimes success comes from being in the right place at the right time without a lot of strategy or self-analysis.  The best mentors however are more self-aware – they had goals and plans on how to achieve those goals and they made it happen.

Honesty

This is probably one of the most important traits listed.  A mentor really needs to be honest, they need to be the ones to shoot down and idea or pull you back into line when nobody else will.  A bit of tough love is required from a mentor, so make sure you pick one that will be able to tell you the whole truth – always.

Discretion

You need to feel comfortable taking to your mentor about a challenge without fearing they’ll use it against you or tell your boss. Discretion is a key.

Different Perspective

A lot of people may go in search of a mentor that is just a more accomplished version of themselves, but one shouldn’t underestimate the value of seeking advice from people who bring different experiences and opinions. Your work life will be full of different personalities with different ways of working and choosing a mentor with a different perspective can go a long way in preparing you for this in your future work career.
 
Going in search of the above traits in your prospective mentor will no doubt help your career path, but don’t forget that you too can be a mentor and there can also be huge benefits of being the one who’s passing on knowledge.  When you go on your journey of being mentored, remember that first, you observe someone else performing a process, then, you learn to do it yourself and finally, you pass your knowledge on to others.
 
Being a mentor will certainly teach you a lot about yourself too.   When you teach something to another person, you discover all of the details that you don’t completely understand yourself.  The other benefits of being a mentor is social, you create an environment of caring, a community that takes care of its own and this in turn creates good working relationships and this in turn creates a great working environment.
 
The final benefit of being a mentor is that it is hugely motivational. Even the best workplaces involve a lot of routine. There are tasks that need to be done on a regular basis, and that can become numbing. Mentoring helps you to see your world through fresh eyes. When you serve as a mentor, you have a chance to really see how much you have accomplished in your career. The daily work that you do can feel incremental. It is hard to see your big contributions amid the cloud of daily tasks. As a mentor, you get to compare yourself to someone who is just starting out. That helps to bring the things you have accomplished into relief. Seeing your contributions in this way re-energises your work life.
 
There are huge benefits to being mentored and to mentoring.  What is certain is that Mentorship is a valuable source of energy, whether it is being given or received.  So in 2016, find yourself a mentor and find someone to mentor and start this journey of discovery and growth.