The Basics: How to Find a Mentor

For me, a mentor is basically Dumbledore: a wise, composed, compassionate teacher with a sense of humor who is somehow able to see a few steps ahead. (Note: the beard is optional.)

  • It’s the way she answers my questions, teaching me why and how.
  • It’s the challenges she presents, daring me to take that one extra action, because who knows? Something wonderful might happen.
  • It’s her calm demeanor, whatever the storm (including a corrupted file masquerading as a 200+ page manuscript).
  • It’s her words of encouragement, her gentle way of picking me up after a stumble, helping me shake off the dust, and then encouraging me to get back on track—never doing it for me, mind you, but instead making sure I know I’m supported through it all.
  • It’s her self-deprecation, her subtle way of reminding me that she’s a human being, too, rather than a superheroine (though I swear she needs a cape).
  • Most of all, it’s her belief in me, steadfast and nurturing without any condescension (even when I trip toward stupidity).

My mentor wants me to learn, grow, and figure things out on my own. But she’s there for it all, too: a steady, cheerleading force of nature. For me, that is the definition of a mentor.

So how do you find one? Chances are you already have; you just haven’t realized it.

  • Who is the first person you turn to when you have a problem you can’t seem to solve?
  • Who is the first person you think of when your career seems stalled and you don’t know the next move?
  • Who calms you down, lifts you up, and helps you get back on your feet?
  • Who has been there, done that, and lived to tell the tale?

You can always ask someone to be your mentor, but I don’t think that’s strictly necessary. What matters most is that you team up with someone you can learn from in a positive way who makes you want to keep pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone just enough to grow.

A true mentor wants you to succeed—not for selfish reasons but because they truly believe in your ability …

For me, what began as a mentor/mentee relationship has turned into a friendship, and I am now able to give back. She taught me that, too: reciprocation. For that—and for her—I am more grateful than I could ever say.

Article: “Tips for Business Meetings When You Have Anxiety”

“As an introvert with anxiety, the ability to work from home has been a godsend. There’s no elevator small talk. Meetings are accomplished over text and email. The phone stays off, and my mind stays steady.

It may sound reclusive, but the truth is I do work better this way, because I’m not anxious about making a good impression. The computer doesn’t judge, and I don’t have to second-guess anything but the words on my screen.

There are times, however, when venturing out into the business world is unavoidable. When that happens, there are a few things I’ve found that can help take the edge off …”

From The Mighty.

Single Parents and Why You Should Hire Them.

  1. They’re driven. There is nothing that lights a fire under you faster than knowing your family is depending on you—and only you. That translates into motivation and the willingness to go the extra mile.
  2. They know what they don’t know. It’s a skill that only comes with life experience and yes, age. It means these workers are willing to do what it takes to bridge the learning gap: classes, degrees, workshops, mentorship, et cetera.
  3. They’re climbers. They want more, and while they might be a little afraid or shy to go after it in the beginning, all it takes to get them rolling is a little push. So when you see untapped potential in an employee, give them the chance to prove to themselves—and you!—that they can do this.
  4. They’re calm in a crisis. They deal with little disasters at home every day. In the workplace, they use that ability to quickly extinguish potential fires calmly and with composure.
  5. They work smart. When it comes to time management, they’re experts. They have to be. Yes, there will be days their family needs them, but they will find a way to get their work done. All they need from you is a little flexibility as to the time and place the work happens.
  6. Their family is their priority. They love their work, but they also place a high value on family; it’s the reason many of them get up in the morning. Having a life beyond work means they know how to slow down and find joy in the small things, which helps to keep them thriving.
  7. They can laugh. Raising kids while dealing with all the little roadblocks life throws in your way is only survivable through a sense of humor. When they bring that wit into the workplace, the office environment lightens up, making everyone more relaxed and team-oriented.

(Note: Obviously, the above qualities apply to other individuals as well, but today I’m championing single parents. As an employer, so should you.)