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Choosing Your Mentor And how to do it wisely By Marlene Chism If you are committed to growing personally or professionally, you will select leaders to learn from and to follow. It may be in the form of a mentoring relationship, a coaching relationship, or even attending a series of conferences where you learn from experts, authors and executives. Learning and modeling those who have achieved more is one of the best ways to advance. However there are some dangers and potential drama if you enter into this type of learning without first knowing yourself and your values. I can’t tell you the number of times I have been disappointed, confused, and gotten off course by choosing the wrong leader to follow. The learning I received though was actually more valuable than the learning I signed up for.  What I have learned is that before deciding to follow, emulate, learn from someone else, you must first be clear about who you are and what you value. If you don’t know who you are, what you stand for, or which values you live by, you may get off course by selecting the wrong leader or mentor to emulate or follow. Or you may unconsciously set yourself up for failure by seeking perfection, or looking for someone to tell you what to do, give you permission or someone to compare yourself to.  We all have blind spots, and if you enter into these types of relationships with hidden agendas, you will not only be disappointed, you will be also distracted, and disillusioned.  In the end it always circles back around to personal responsibility. Here are some of the dangers of following without discernment: • You will believe everything they say • You will model behaviors and choices that do not align with your values • You may become distracted by your own cognitive dissonance • You will be disappointed or disillusioned Too often we look for strong personalities to help us achieve a certain type of success, yet the same leader who may be able to help you achieve success in business acumen, may not be the best teacher for you when it comes to achieving life-balance, relationship harmony or spiritual contentedness.  I’ve seen individuals change their personality to try to match their mentor, and it just doesn’t work.  Not that you can’t course-correct, or make changes to improve your effectiveness, but trying to learn spirituality and life balance from  Donald Trump and striving to learn how to be a business tycoon by studying Eckhart Tolle would be ridiculous.  (And yes, that’s even if they offered a course on the subject and others accept without challenge.)  It’s up to you to use discernment and wisdom, otherwise you’re going to be very distracted trying to figure it all out, or you’re going to waste a lot of time arguing with others who blindly follow with a critical thought. You have to choose WHAT you want to learn and then apply your learning through that filter. Here are some ways to gain clarity before choosing a mentor, coach or leader to follow: 1. What area of expertise does this person have that I want to learn about? 2. What values does this person exhibit that is congruent with mine? 3. What values does this individual exhibit that is out of alignment with my values? 4.  Do I have a need for this person to be perfect? 5. Am I strong enough to learn from someone that may not have the same values as I do? 6.  Can I look through the proper filters to learn what I need to learn? 7. What are my real objectives for working with or learning from this person? PE Marlene Chism is a consultant, international speaker and author of Stop Workplace Drama (Wiley 2011) and No-Drama Leadership (Bibliomotion 2015). Marlene’s passion is developing wise leaders and helping people to discover, develop and deliver their gifts to the world. Marlene’s message is spreading across the country at association meetings, corporate retreats, universities and other venues. Email marlene@stopworkplacedrama.com Stop Workplace Drama Personal Excellence essentials presented by HR.com | 10.2014 Submit your Articles 27


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