By : Amber Branch
What is your purpose? I mean, we all have one right? If we didn’t, we wouldn’t spend 40 hours a week trying to become investors to our own dreams. We don’t go to work because it’s our purpose, we go to work to fulfill our purpose… and THAT is exactly the realization that every entrepreneur has right before they send in their two week’s notice. You know the one. It’s been sitting in your files for weeks and you’re just waiting on your manager to micromanage you one last time before you manage to press send on that email.
In 2017, everyone either wants to start a business, is starting one, or already has one. Some people are choosing the route of full time entrepreneurship, while others have decided to find the balance in between corporate America and their “passion projects.” In either case, in order to fulfill purpose of this capacity we can all agree on the fact that one of best places to begin, when starting any new business, is getting a mentor.
However, many find themselves with the same issue I had. Mentors don’t always have the time to mentor. As awesome as mentors are…. if a person is truly successful… they have a finite amount of time they can dedicate to you. However, the solution I’ve found to this is to actually take an alternative route and go and work for them. Why? Because when you become a part of their world, you not only get the mentorship, but you get the personalized dedication that it actually requires for dramatic professional development.
When we think of the word “intern,” we give it a negative stigma. A few things that come to mind is underpaid, over worked and under appreciated. However, if you can put your pride aside, and put your purpose on the forefront, you could actually end up being one of the most successful people in your industry. No matter if it means volunteering, interning, a part time job, or lower paying career, becoming a part of your mentors daily reality is the best learning experience you could ever have. Why do you think they walked to get that cheesecake for P. Diddy on Making the Band? It wasn’t because they liked the idea of combining exercising and savory deserts. It’s because they understood the value of working for a successful mentor no matter how humiliating the process may have felt. Essentially, they over looked the cost and ended up gaining the value.
Should you choose to humble yourself (because it does take humility) and take the strategic opportunity, there are a few things you should remember before going into your new mentee position:
- Shut up, but never stop communicating
What do I mean by this? The most important skill when being a mentee is effective listening. This a time for your mentor to pour everything they know into you. When they are talking to you, don’t cut them off, don’t tune them out, and don’t derail the conversation. Simply let them teach you and soak it up like a sponge. This doesn’t mean stop communicating though, never stop asking questions. Remain curious and transparent with your mentor. The goal is the build trust, hear what they may need from you, and apply what they are teaching you.
- Be humble, sit down
Kendrick Lamar told us all a hard set of instructions. To “be humble” or “sit down” is never easy, especially when you’re academically accomplished, established in you career or just plain grown. In your role as a mentee you may have an overwhelming desire to prove yourself or how much you know while working for your mentor. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT DO THIS. It is the absolute fastest way to get your mentor annoyed, pissed off or, worse case scenario, get you fired as a mentee, intern or employee. When we try to prove ourselves we end up either 1. Making a fool out of ourselves or 2. Making a fool out of our mentors. The reality is, they know your potential, intelligence and abilities, that’s actually why you got the role. So there is no need to prove yourself. Now is the time to sit down and be humble because in order to get to the next level, you have to be able and WILLING to learn from them.
- Gratitude is the best attitude
Demoralized. That’s how we feel any time we are in positions where our potential is not being maximized. But the simplest answer to overcome feeling overqualified for your position is gratitude. When you learn be grateful in having the opportunity to learn through someone else’s wisdom rather than having to make mistakes, you can really enjoy the experience.
- Patience is a virtue
You can do more! We get it! However, impatience is not the opposite of patience… ambition is. When you know what you want, are capable of achieving and know what’s possible in the end, you also tend to want to just make the leap and go for it. That’s an awesome quality to have… but not as a mentee. Mentorship is more about pace than anything else. When a person is teaching you something, they want to see if you are actually going to do three things before they move on to the next lesson or promote you:
- Did you listen.
- Did you apply it.
- Did you master it
So give yourself time to accomplish these three tasks before jumping the gun. Become an expert in the area of being productive rather than being busy.
- Put your blinders on
Do you know what kills gratitude? Comparison. Going to work for someone else, especially a mentor is an amazing opportunity to learn. But if you are going to get the most out of your experience, you have to stop measuring your success based on other people’s accomplishments. Your mentor may have other mentees and your maybe have friends making progress in their lives. However, their journey is not your journey. Had you chose not to position yourself to be mentored, you would have taken a route that would have cost you more time and resources than a season of mentorship would. You can actually exponentially grow your output if you’re willing to sacrifice a season of labor for a season of professional development. When is gets discouraging never forget that all seasons are temporary.
You can learn more about building a business working for a successful business owner than you can from school, trial and error, or winging it. Remember, It’s not always an easy a decision to take a step down, backwards, or under someone else, but it’s always worth it. Your time is worth it. Your purpose is worth it. Your success is worth it.