Join Us on Facebook Join Us on Facebook!

Article of the Month

Send email to a friend
Send Email to a Friend
Find a Mentor - Be a Mentor
by Caela Farren, Ph.D., MasteryWorks, Inc.

So you say "...Who on God's green earth has the time to devote to career building?" The answer is YOU and All you need is FIFTEEN MINUTES A DAY. No Excuses.Introduction
While walking along the beach last week, I was struck by all the mentoring going on nearby. Older surfers were shouting to newbies which wave to shoot. Old Portuguese fishermen on the pier were showing kids how to bait their hooks and cast out their fishing lines. The mature terns and sandpipers were nudging their little guys around pointing out places to look for food. Even scout ants in the beach sand were showing worker ants where to find morsels of food. Mentoring, teaching, and helping seem to go on all around us.

What Mentoring Means
At the beginning of my career as a teacher and an educator, mentors found me and I built strong relationships with them. After receiving my doctoral degree in organizational behavior and starting my own consulting business more than forty years ago, I had to find and build new mentoring relationships. I quickly learned finding the right mentor was not enough. As my consulting practice and goals changed, I needed several different kinds of mentors. I learned that knowing what I needed to learn or be able to do at the time was the key to finding the right mentor(s). You don’t have to go it alone.

I found some mentors who could explain and others who could demonstrate by example. But, in the end I learned the right mentor does more than explain or show you the way. The right mentor is someone who opens your eyes to new aspects of your profession or important practices that you never saw before. A great mentor inspires. I also discovered that some of the people that had the greatest influence on my learning and development were in the books and articles I devoured.

How can you establish a mentoring relationship with someone like, Gary Hamel? His books and videos are certainly helpful. But if you want to get closer to mentoring relationships with great minds of this generation, you need to go on-line to sites like, It ‘s a social bookmarking network, where you can find and share a wide variety of subjects on bookmarks, and has nearly 500 blogs and articles from, to and about Gary Hamel. Find a subject you want to learn and get into the heads of those experts who are already seasoned or writing about your interest. Your bookmarks can be a magnet for information and learning. You may never meet some of your most valuable “virtual mentors,” but their thinking and advice can hone your skills or change your approaches. They may even change your life vision.

Finding Mentors
As you well know, going it alone can be a long, tough journey. All we need to succeed in our careers is to find that right person to mentor and coach us. Right? Yes and no. Yes, we do need mentors to coach us. But, no one mentor is any longer sufficient for 30-40 year careers. Today, having multiple mentors is a necessity because so much is changing around us. No one person can coach us in all the important disciplines of a complex workplace. Historically, we could succeed with one or two mentors in a lifetime. But with today's increasingly rapid pace of change and accelerated learning, we need multiple mentors to stay competitive in our work life.

Finding a mentor is up to you. Know what you need. Look around and determine the different people inside and outside, face to face or on-line in your industry, organization, and profession you might turn to for extra coaching and support. Once you find someone you think can help, look for ways you can help him/her as well. Mentor/protégé relationships work best when they are two way streets. The more you give, the more you get. Listen generously to what mentors need. You will find it easier to ask them for what you need.

Go outside of your department, organization and industry to connect with people who are on the leading edge, experts who will inspire you and take you to new places and ideas. The best mentors in the world today go virtual. They are just a computer stroke away on the internet. I often go to (Technology Entertainment and Design). TED consists of video clips of conferences from all over the world, where speakers break new ground and bring new ideas to a world audience.

Whether on-line or face-to-face, your mentor should be someone you respect and admire, someone who inspires you to your highest potential, and a person who has expertise in the area of your learning. Age means little; your mentor’s age should only be defined by expertise. Your mentor should be available for interaction either face-to-face or virtually. No matter how successful the mentors are whom you’ve chosen, they need to be available to pick you up when you fall down and help you through hard times. You need a mentor that is open-minded. This will allow you to progress in a way you want, not necessarily in the way the mentor would prefer that you progress.

Mentoring needs to be evaluated frequently to see if current mentoring relationships are worthwhile or have become stale. To get your career back on track, MasteryWorks, Inc. offers an online tool, the MENTORSMART™ Assessment, to help you identify and evaluate the kinds of mentors you need at any time. We include eight different types of mentoring: career development, work/life integration, industry knowledge, professional/trade knowledge, technology, organization knowledge, customer knowledge and work/process knowledge. It’s rare that one person can mentor you in all of these domains. So, determine what you need and then begin your search.

Being a Mentor
Don't be a taker! Be a giver! Eventually, being mentored will place you in a position to be a mentor. A mentor is a gift. The influence and inspiration of mentoring can never be overstated. George Leonard, a leading authority on mastery, placed instruction as the first key to mastery. “Find the right guide to take you on your journey, if you want to reach your goal.” The concept is not new. Three hundred years ago, Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” In a published collection of interviews more than 15 years ago, Joan Ames gave us an anecdotal glimpse into the lives of a handful of people who had attained mastery in their respective fields. A common theme in each case was that their journey started and continued with appropriate mentors.

Give Thanks for Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
It’s Fall again and our thoughts turn toward Thanksgiving with the expectation of sitting down and giving thanks with our family and friends. At MasteryWorks, we give special thanks to our extended family of clients, the organizations and the people within them, who have made our lives so complete through their continuing commitment to career development. For all of us, Thanksgiving is a moment for reflection, - a time to stop and count our many blessings. It’s a moment to think about the unselfish gifts given to us by our parents and the way they brought us up, the gifts of education and skills freely bestowed on us by devoted teachers, great mentors and managers and the friendship and help of colleagues and our organization. It’s a time to express our gratitude.

The importance of our mentors is undeniable. They change our perspective on life without asking for anything in return. They give us the gifts of knowledge and inspiration. For that we thank them and by doing so, our gratitude to them grants new meaning to our daily challenges. Their insight and encouragement provide us with immeasurable strength to face and overcome obstacles. Thanksgiving gives us a chance to express our gratitude to all those giants who have allowed us to see the world by standing on their shoulders. Thanksgiving is a great time to send a thank you note to your mentors and let them know how much you appreciate them.

Mentoring, teaching, and helping go on all around us. Get connected to people, who are on the leading edge, experts who will inspire you and take you to new places and ideas. Today, having multiple mentors is a necessity because so much is changing around us. Whether on-line or face-to-face, your mentor should be someone you respect and admire, someone who inspires you to your highest potential, a person who cares about your success as much as you, and your mentor should be available for interaction either face-to-face or virtually. This is the time of year to thank our mentors.

About the Author
Caela Farren, Ph. D.
, is Founder and President of MasteryWorks, Inc., - a leading Career Development consulting organization offering innovative solutions to large and mid-size companies, including Bayer, Baylor Health Care, Brown Forman, CapitalOne, Northrop Grumman, Reebok, Sprint, Sandia National Labs and Sodexo. MasteryWorks, Inc. provides enterprise web portals, training, consulting, e-Learning, and an assessment framework for employees and managers. For more than thirty-five years, Dr. Farren has been a passionate leader around complex issues redefining the workplace. She envisioned the current workplace climate fifteen years ago, when she published a cornerstone compendium on career development, “Who’s Running Your Career: Creating Stable Work in Unstable Times” (Bard Press, 1997). Through MasteryWorks, Inc., she oversees solutions that create the foundation for impact-filled “career conversations” - centered on increased contribution, performance, and fit. She is a leading authority of strategic approaches which consistently deliver employee engagement and retention goals for her clients.

For more information, contact Adam Alexander, Vice President, or call us at (703) 256-5712.

MasteryWorks, Inc.
2230 George C Marshall Drive, Suite 122 Falls Church, Virginia 22043 USA 800-229-5712