Having both benefited immensely from having a mentor and acting as a mentor to others during my time as a business owner and consultant, allow me to share why I urge you to get one too.
First things first…
What is a mentor?
To answer this question, we need to start with what a mentor is not.
A mentor is not a coach.
The two roles share similarities of course. Both coaches and mentors observe, question and listen to their ‘client’ in order to understand ‘where they are’. They help explore the person’s needs and motivations. They support them in setting goals and encourage them to take action in order to achieve lasting personal growth and change.
But whereas a coach aims to take their client on a specific educational path in order to enhance their skills to perform better in their job, mentoring is more of a relationship than a particular activity. It’s about providing subtle support to help someone achieve learning on a more fundamental, personal level.
What can a mentor do?
Allow me to draw on my own experience here.
I have been lucky enough to have a few mentors in my life and will say immediately that they have helped develop me as a business owner and leader. They have helped to take me beyond my professional learning and expertise to grow as a person.
Back in the early noughties, I found myself in a position where I was unable to pursue my personal vision of creating a different style of accountancy firm. One which would apply its skills to truly help to change the lives of business owners and their families.
I found myself at a crossroads. Stay the same or be true to my vision?
I discussed what I was feeling with friends, loved ones and yes, my mentor. I had my family of course and was happy to find my existing team would come across to the new business with me. But starting a new firm still felt like a very big, very scary life decision. One which would see me stick my head above the parapet and create a firm which would challenge the more traditional accountancy establishment.
My mentor helped bolster my confidence. She had faith in my abilities. She helped turn the fear into excitement and confidence.
Without her encouragement and support I may not have taken the big step to ‘go it alone’ and be true to my vision for my life. A decision which I now count as one of the best I have ever made.
How will a mentor benefit you as a dentist and business owner?
So let’s relate this experience to your life as a dentist running your own business. Let’s look at why it’s important you have a mentor of your own.
Just like me 10 years ago, if you are looking to bring about change in your dental business, or create a new one to achieve your vision, a mentor will help you. If this big hairy vision fills you with an equal amount of fear and excitement, a mentor will make sure the excitement prevails and you move forward.
A mentor will help you to get out of your comfort zone and have the confidence to pursue what you want. You’ll need someone who will be there to listen when you need to be heard, and act as your sounding board, as you take your big audacious step.
On the other hand, it may be that your goals are more modest but still present a level of trepidation.
Whatever your ambitions, a mentor will help take you away from your everyday clinicial activities to focus on your goals.
A mentor will also help you:
• Overcome the feeling of loneliness and help you deal with the pressures of having ultimate responsibility for your dental business
• Help you develop as the leader of your team and accelerate your personal development – something which very little of a dentist’s typical training addresses
• Motivate you and help you keep going as you pursue your vision and goals
• Provide support and guidance when you feel you are ‘off course’
• Encourage you to trust and go with your instincts (or to quote a famous film franchise, to ‘use the force’)
How you can find a mentor
Perhaps someone already in your life comes to mind as you read this blog?
A mentoring relationship often builds organically and you may recognise the qualities listed here in someone you already know.
If so, it may be possible to approach them to formally recognise and establish a mentoring relationship.
It’s about finding someone who has been there, been tested in different business areas. Someone who you recognise and respect has achieved a level of success and the kind of work-life balance you desire.
So if a particular individual does not immediately come to mind, form a list of potential mentors whether you know them already or not. People who you admire or arise from some research. Look at their particular skills and experiences to assess what they may be able to provide to you.
And then approach them.
It may just be the difference between shying away from what you really want from life and going for it.
Remember to share how you get on below!
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