Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.
– John Crosby
A great mentor pushes you, pulls you, challenges you, and inspires you. It’s not a relationship that is just about giving you homework, or giving you praise when you achieve a goal. Sometimes it is about questioning your decisions and making you think on another level. Sometimes your mentor will be focused on encouraging you to change a habit or develop a new one. Every mentor/mentee relationship is unique. The best ones literally change your life.
A great mentor always seems to know what you need. They know that the same techniques don’t work for everyone. Some people respond really well to pushing and others just push back and stay stuck. The ultimate goal is helping you achieve what you want to achieve, not what they want for you.
The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.
– Steven Spielberg
For entrepreneurs having a mentor is critical to success. Most travel entrepreneurs are working on their own from home, and for that reason, I think mentors are even more important. Mentors are one of the reasons small business incubators have such a high success rate. Instead of being completely alone while you are building your business, you are in place with in-house mentors who foster brainstorming and collaboration. Isolation is tough for most people and can lead to inertia.
But how exactly do you get a mentor? Some people are fortunate to have one appear in their life. For others, they hire coaches to serve in that role. A good mentor can be hard to find, but don’t give up!
One of the best ways to find a mentor is to find someone who is doing something that inspires you. If you love what they are doing and how they are doing it, ask them to mentor you. Don’t be offended if they say no. Some people know they aren’t great mentors. Like anything else in life, all mentors aren’t created equal. You will encounter people in your life who offer to be mentors but aren’t really cut out for it. Then there are other people who think a mentor/mentee relationship is more a form of servitude and you end up being their assistant.
You might want to have more than one mentor. Perhaps there is someone who really inspires you in social media who isn’t in the travel industry and they can mentor you in that area. Yet another person is doing amazing things with their travel business and they can be a travel mentor.
For some people hiring a coach or mentor is a better option. This is especially true if you are looking for someone with a particular skillset. A good coach will bring you far more value than they cost in fees. But enrolling in a program where there isn’t any one-on-one time isn’t really mentorship. You won’t get the same thing out of it if you don’t have the same person to work with regularly. It’s important that they get to know you. If you talk to someone different every time, that’s more of a help desk than a mentor relationship.
That’s why our Travel MBA program has a dedicated mentor. We know it is critical that the mentor get to know the people in the program and what their goals are.
If you don’t have a mentor now, start thinking about people who inspire you who might serve in that role. And if you can be a mentor to someone else, you should give back in that role. We all have something to learn and something to teach.