Here is something I’ve learned over the past few years: it matters to ask for mentoring.
I’m young, and in many ways I have so so much to learn. But I’ve learned the value of having mentors in my life informally. The first two mentors I’ve had were people who chose to invest in me before I thought I was worth investing in. One was my dad who mentored me over years, the second was a man named Shawn Good who actually asked if he could mentor me. He took the initiative and really showed me the value of having someone pour and invest into you. Both through his mentoring and through my dad’s, my leadership grew leaps and bounds.
But through a series of events both of those mentoring relationships stopped (my dad passed away, and Shawn moved across the country and I changed churches at the same time).
It was at that point that I realized something: I need mentors. I need people to invest in me, and not just for me but those around me. If I am going to give back something to this world, to the church I love, to the people I love, I need to be doing my best. And the truth is my best comes out when I’m listening and engaging with others wiser and more experienced than I am.
So I did something that felt unusual to me. I contacted one of the best pastors in our denomination and asked him to mentor and invest in me. I asked if I could have lunch and just learn from him. And he accepted and out of that relationship grew an opportunity I never could have guessed.
And I have been doing the same thing since: selectively reaching out to leaders I respect and asking for some coaching.
And through this I’ve made some great relationships. I thought what’s the worst – they can say no. But not one has said no, they’ve all given back, helped me grow, and given things to think about and put into practice.
So I say all this for one simple reason: we all know others investing in us helps us tremendously. But here is where we struggle: we don’t ask. We hope that someone will recognize us, will choose to invest in us, will see the potential and take the initiative. And sometimes that happens like with Shawn and my Dad, but sometimes it doesn’t. What I’ve also learned from the mentoring end of things, I love investing in people who take the initiative to ask, to learn, to grow, and to practice.
So here is my challenge for you this week. If you want to grow in whatever area you live, work, and breathe – who are the people you really respect? Who are the people you might have a connection with? Who are the people that you would love to spend even sometime with to learn?
And now here’s the challenge: why not ask them? Why not take some initiative and add some hustle, some discernment over who to approach and genuinely ask. Get rid of arrogance, and humbly ask. What’s the worst?
Because here is what I know about good leaders – they want to invest in other leaders. And the leaders I look to invest in are the ones who are hungry to learn, seeking to change lives with some extra investment and wisdom, and not scared to try.
So all I’m saying today is that chances are there are people in your company, in your sector, in your world that you might have a semi-relationship with. Ask if you can take them out to lunch to learn. Who knows it might start something that turns out to be the best future you could imagine.