The Article is written by Bhavna Singh, Fairfield School of Law, Kapashera affiliated to Indraprastha University, Delhi.
“A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.”
_Zig Ziglar, American Author, Salesman, and Motivational Speaker
Sometimes we can lose hopes, but they know that we can do it. They trust us and their trust makes us do which we could never think of doing. They are our mentors. A life without a mentor is directionless.
Similar to other fields lawyers also need mentorship. If we look around we will notice that every successful person had a mentor. They know the value of a mentor.
“A small amount of time invested on your part to share your expertise can open up a new world for someone else.” – Mark Zuckerberg, CO-founder and CEO Facebook
“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” – Bill Gates, Founder and Technology adviser, Microsoft
“If you ask any successful businessperson, they will always (say they) have had a great mentor at some point along the road.” – Richard Branson, founder Virgin Group
Reflect, before deciding anything
It is important to reflect before setting up a goal and a path for the same. We can ask ourselves, Who we are? What makes us happy? What is our passion? What makes us awesome? What are our skills, strength and traits? What do we want from life? What do we want to give to life? These questions can help us to reflect better.
Once we are able to answer these questions. We can set a goal for life. Setting up a goal is not enough however we need a mentor. A mentor helps us to reach our goals faster.
What is mentorship?
Mentorship is giving as much as one gets. It is a mutually beneficial relationship. These are the two sides of a coin.
What are the roles of a Mentor?
Before looking for a mentor, we need to understand the role of a mentor. A mentor is different from a teacher. A teacher gives us a word to word understanding however, a mentor guides us to take better steps. A mentor neither does things for us nor he tells us how to do it. Mentor is there for us to help. He gives tips, tricks, and advice because he already has good experience in his field, he gives us smart alternatives. He helps us to identify legal pitfalls.
Who is a good mentor?
A good mentor should have a good track in his field. He must be open listening to his mentee. He must be thoughtful and allows his mentee to go beyond his limits. A good mentor is always friendly to his mentee. He has a decent and balanced life and shares a moment to chat with his mentee.
How to choose a Mentor?
We need to have a keen observation of our goals and the path. It is not easy to find a good mentor however, these questions can help us to find the best mentor, Why we need a mentor? Are we a mentee material? What does a mentor do? What are we looking for from our mentor to do? What would we like to learn from our mentor? How the mentorship will look? How often would we like to meet or talk to our mentor? How we are going to interact with our mentor?
A legal mentor can be our ex-bosses, colleague or a worker with a good reputation. A famous legal personality can be our mentor as well.
First, we need to make a list of people who we think, can be our potential mentor. We have to choose the best person from the list but on what basis? Don’t worry!
We can choose the best person on the following basis:
- The person should be known to us.
- The person should be a little concerned for us.
- The person can give us some time on monthly or quarter yearly or even semi-yearly basis.
A person who doesn’t have some time for us, can’t be a good mentor. A mentor guides us better if he is concerned for us. A mentor who knows about us can suggest better options. A person is suitable to choose as our mentor if he shares things which we value in our life or he has a similar legal background which we want to have.
What is the ‘TEA’ theory’?
It is the best theory to choose a mentor.
‘T’ denotes the person who knows the theories but has never applied the theory. e.g. Professors. They know the theory but they don’t have experience of the application of it. It’s not bad to choose a professor as our mentor but it’s the lowest quality of guidance.
‘E’ denotes the person who knows the theory and has a good experience of the same. It can be a person who had worked with successful lawyers.
‘A’ denotes the person who knows the theory and has a good experience by applying the theory. It can be a lawyer or a judge. They can provide us with the best guidance to start our career as a lawyer. It would be best to choose a lawyer or a judge as our mentor.
What after choosing a person?
After choosing a person from the list we need to study. Do we associate to the right person? What makes us so appealing about him? Can he add value to our career? Do we challenge ourselves or do we go with the flow? If the answer is a yes, we are ready to select him as our mentor.
It is important to prove that we are coachable. We put ourselves into work. We take care of ourselves. These things can make our mentor choose us as their mentee. A conversation or meeting is important to go further.
It is important to make a list of questions to ask the mentor. However a question like “ Will you be my mentor?” can be the worst question ever. It would look like, you are asking someone to marry you, on the first meeting only. Questions must be thoughtful for which Google or books have no answer. We shouldn’t ask about them or what they do because if we were unknown to this then why we would have chosen them as our mentor. We can ask them how would they start a legal journey if they have to start during the current going year.
We can start the conversation by telling them about ourselves. It is important to remember that we don’t make a wrong impression on them. We should also give them opportunities to ask questions from us.
What after meeting mentor?
We need to evaluate the fruit. If the meeting worked out. If the person can guide us in a good way. We can choose the person as our mentor. If we find the person suitable to us and the person is ready to be our mentor.
Can a high Profile personality be our mentor?
We can even choose a high profile person as our mentor. These people have an inbox full of people asking for something. We need to differentiate ourselves from them. We have to take certain difficult steps to reach out to the person it can take years even to make them our mentor.
6 steps to convince a high profile personality to be your mentor.
Are we a mentee material?
We need to ask ourselves, are we a mentee material? Are we open? Are we wanting to be critiqued? Are we respectful? We need to make ourselves realize that we are actively wanting to improve ourselves on an everyday basis. If we really want to become better. We can move to the next step.
Do we need to go beyond their digital mentoring?
Most of the high profile personality producing a lot of mentoring material these days. e.g. podcast, videos, books. We need to ask ourselves, do we really want to go beyond what they are already producing?
Identify 3 goals they have within the next 12 months.
We need to start stalking them, not in a crazy way but in a simple and positive way. It will help us to understand what are the things they value in their life. We have to figure out if these are the same things which we value in our life. If things are not the same then it is clear that they are not a suitable mentor for us. Stalking will help us to identify their 3 goals which they have within the next 12 months.
Get them closer to 1 or more of their goals (add value)
Help them to get closer to their goals. Do whatever you can, to get them closer to their goals. It will add value.
Update them about our progress.
We have to update them about our progress on whatever we have done to add value to their goals. We can comment on videos or on posts or we can directly write to them. Doesn’t matter if they don’t respond but it will put you on their radar because they are noticing you or someone from their group has an eye on your steps.
Elevate our value to them over time
We can elevate our value to them by taking some bigger steps. We can find someone to buy their business. For example, if the high profile personality is producing podcasts or writing books. We can convince a community or institution to buy thousands of books or we can convince them to download thousands of episodes of their podcasts. It means we are selling their business for free. This step separates us from a fan to a peer.
Repeat step 3-6 over & over & over
It’s the most important step. Doesn’t matter how many years it takes but work because at a time all your competitors would have dropped out and at last you will get the results.
How to make mentorship healthy?
The mentor and mentee relationship need to be evolved organically but to make this relationship healthier, we need to press into the relationship. We need to be accountable to our mentor. We shouldn’t expect from them to do things for us, not even to show us how to do something, instead of it we can rely on them to check our own guts. It will help us to validate our work.
We learn to think about problems. It is not good to ask for too much from our mentor. A regular follow up of our work will make this relationship healthier. Regular meetings, talks or connections are must but it is important to keep in mind that we don’t occupy our mentor’s too much time. It is good to keep the schedule and stick upon it.
How to appreciate our mentor’s support
Asking for feedback from your mentor is really good. It helps us to analyze our progress. Listening to our mentor and make a note of their needs, can help us to provide help to our mentors, what they are looking for. It is good to ask questions from our mentor. Most of the time it don’t irritate them however, it is a pleasure to them. We should not be afraid of asking even silly questions. It is well said that “Often the most stupid thing about stupid questions is, not asking them.”
It is good to make yourself available for your mentor. We can provide them with the best quality work for free. We should prove to them that we respect their time and advice by making meetings convenient to them. We can schedule meetings in their office or near to that. Giving them before asking is the best way to appreciate their support.
A mentor like it when they see that mentee is sticking on the schedule what he/she had kept. We can gift them books or a bottle of wine as a token of thanks. We should always keep a connection with them on Linkedin. We should create opportunities for our mentor to see us grow.
What is the Dead Mentor theory?
Along with an alive mentor, we can have a dead mentor as well. We can choose a dead personality to have guidance. For example Steve Jobs.
We can read their content. We can analyze the people who have worked with them. Study of their interviews can help us a lot. We can study, what their enemies say. Why their enemies don’t like them.
Why one mentor is not enough?
We have two persons as our parents because if we are not satisfied with the advice of one, we can go to another one.
The same theory applies while choosing a mentor. We should have more than one mentor so that we can have the best advice. It may happen that your mentor is busy when you badly need him. Then you can go to your second mentor. It is important to keep in mind that we should never compare our mentors. All the mentors are best at their own place. We should never disrespect one mentor on another.
It is important to understand that everyone has their own way to treat their mentees. Some mentors provide occasional advice while some mentors like regular updates and like a structured relationship. They are strict with the schedule. They leave if they find that mentee is not willing to learn and wasting their time.
Sometimes we may feel challenged and want to leave when the mentor asks for follow up but we should not lose hopes. The best way to overcome it that we must be clear from our side.