Having a mentor or coach in your life can be really helpful.
It's someone who can show us how to be better at life, to inspire us that there is more within our reach. Someone to lean on for a minute when we feel weak and worn down, and feel like giving up. Someone to show the way to a better way of life.
Mentors, coaches, spiritual leaders, healers, therapists, teachers... we have many names to call the people who are in positions to do these things. We honor them. We respect them. We are vulnerable with them.
And there is little more devastating to our sense of being than when we are let down or betrayed by our leaders.
It's important to do your research on your prospective mentor so you know you're putting your trust in the right person.
As you search for a mentor, keep these guidelines in mind.
1. Someone you desire to emulate in the way they show up to the world. Your mentor should be a presence of love, joy, peace, and integrity in your life (and the lives of others). When you buy into their sessions, programs, classes, churches, or healing centers, what you are really buying into is them. Everything else is secondary.
Quick tip: Check out their online presence. Are they positive, helpful, and uplifting? Or are they sarcastic, inappropriate, and make themselves out to be victims? Would you be proud to share their content with your loved ones, or would you feel the need to apologize for their behavior?
2. (Respectfully) challenges you, makes you think new thoughts and question old ones. Paying someone to agree with you exclusively is a waste of time, money, and energy. Also, it creates unhealthy dynamics that are counter to the goals of growth and betterment. Someone who agrees with you all the time is afraid to lose you. Right there, the relationship is already dysfunctional and doomed.
A mentor who demands agreement, submission, or buy-in may be an ego-maniac. If they make you feel stupid for having other ideas, opinions, beliefs, or experiences, beware.
3. Without an agenda, other than to serve your needs. Your mentor is a servant leader. You shouldn't feel bullied, belittled, or bossed around.
Warning Sign! If a mentor won't refer you out to another expert in another path of expertise, or worse - acts jealous when you explore! - that can be a clue that your mentor has an agenda other than your growth.
4. Not afraid to rattle your cage. If you have a great mentor, you may at times feel quite upset with them. Calling into question every belief you are guided by is some triggering work.
Even though you want someone who will challenge you, there is a fine line into abuse of power. Always remember the first rule: LOVE. Love has no agenda other than to be love, to serve love, and to expand in love.
5. Sees the world through eyes of love and compassion. If your mentor is angry, jealous, petty, or fearful, then those are the lenses they are guiding you through. That is who they will teach you to become. It would be impossible not to, if that's what they embody.
Watch out for mentors who withhold and are not transparent in their authenticity.
6. Has excellent boundaries. Your mentor is not your buddy. Our pals rarely hold us (or themselves) to high standards. Your mentor must be that exemplar for you so you can learn too...and all without making you feel less than, or lower. Boundaries should bolster your confidence overall, because they create a safe space for you.
Red flag! Watch out for mentors who date or have sex with their students. No one can truly feel safe in an environment where they are a potential interest for the leader.
7. Willing and able to say, "I don't know." Humility is important in mentorship. Mentors have the power to destroy the lives of those who trust them implicitly. Your mentor shouldn't make up answers or be brash - they should take time to consider the options with you and be willing to come back to you later with more information.
Watch out when they don't acknowledge their mistakes, or apologize sincerely.
8. Eagerly welcomes your questioning and skepticism. Trust is earned. If your mentor takes your lack of understanding what you came to learn as an affront, you have a big red flag on your hands. If they know their stuff, and if they are confident in their abilities, they will actually trust and respect you more for questioning them. You can't really own a concept for yourself without questioning it at some point.
TIP: You'll know they're welcome of your questioning when they respect your opinions if you decide you don't agree with their ideas.
9. Has expertise in the area you seek help in. You wouldn't go to a doctor who flunked out of medical school, so why would you take financial advice from someone who was chronically broke? Or business advice from someone who works two part-time jobs to make her business possible? Or relationship advice from someone trapped in a bad marriage?
If the mentor you are considering seems unstable in their history, or has multiple jobs, make sure you look at the big picture to see if that's a fit for you.
10. Acknowledges the partnership between you. No one can change you. You must change yourself, if you are to change. Your mentor is a way-shower and a cheerleader. YOU are the hero in your story. Be cautious if your mentor is a glory hog.
Red flag: "I told you so" shouldn't come out of your mentor's mouth. Your mentor is ultimately a resource for your own life - they're not your boss.
Working with someone to change your life is always a huge step, and a vulnerable one. We hear stories all the time from people whose doctors have said vile and hurtful things without even seeming to realize it, or care that they did. If a practitioner of physical health can hurt us so deeply, imagine what a practitioner of spiritual, emotional, or mental health can do, and how it can affect our relationships with self and others, and our businesses.
One more thing...
Watch out for someone with no history in their field. Some mentors chose their profession as a back-up plan or because they couldn't find work in another field. This isn't always a deal-breaker, but it almost never feels the same as working with someone who truly LOVES serving others and sees it as their lifelong mission.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
1900 Swift Street
North Kansas City, MO