Views & Opinions

4: Finding a Mentor – Developing a Road Map

Welcome friends!  We hope you have taken some time this week to think about manifesting growth.  Working through your supervisor to obtain development opportunity is not the only path to your destination.  There are many routes and the next one we’ll explore is Finding a Mentor.

So, what is a mentor anyway?   Webster’s defines a mentor as a trusted counselor or guide.  Mentoring is an influential relationship with a focused objective.   The objective is not to create a clone or exact match skill set between the mentor and mentee; but to professionally transfer knowledge and insight between two individuals in a collaborative exchange.  Does this mean that the mentor will create the road map for you?  No.  The mentor’s role is to suggest paths and your role is to take the information provided into consideration and choose the route you will take. Now that we are clear on what a mentor does and have defined roles, let’s find a mentor.

Start your search by looking around you.  Do you see anyone that you are impressed by?  Someone that is perhaps really good in areas where you would like to grow?  Someone that has characteristics that you admire?  Is there someone who has a trait that you have tried to emulate?  Those are ideal candidates to be your mentor. If there is no one like that in your immediate circle, look within your agency, city, county or subscriber agencies; check with Human Resources or see if there is a career advisement program where you work.  Don’t be afraid to expand your search by looking to a neighboring PSAP, local business owner, church, training instructor, educator or a professional organization, like APCO or NENA.   Mentoring does not have to be an in-person effort, it can occur via telephone, video call, etc., allowing you to search broader horizons.  NENA has a national Mentor Center open to all members that we encourage you to look into.

Once you have identified potential mentor candidates, reach out via email or telephone and ask them to be your mentor.   Be sure to tell them why you sought them out, describe what you admire about them and explain your desired outcome.   Just like asking to meet with your supervisor, asking someone to mentor you may be a little out of your comfort zone.  Asking for something for yourself requires you to be vulnerable.  Confidence is a requirement in our career field and, at first glance, being vulnerable seems to be at odds with confidence.

Confidence and vulnerability are not mutually exclusive, however.   Being vulnerable takes courage and is a risk, but it is a risk that can move you further along in your journey.  To further explore the incongruent themes of vulnerability, confidence and courage, check out this article by Jeff Haden  “To Be More Confident, Be More Vulnerable: 8 Counterintuitive Ways to Build Confidence” at www.inc.com.

Check back next week when we will discuss the mentoring cycle.    Remember, the point of these posts is to serve you and help you on your journey.  Please leave your feedback, comments, suggestions, questions, etc. and we will do our best to incorporate your ideas and suggestions into a future post.

As always, look for joy so that it can find you!

Content Contributed by AZ APCO-NENA Executive Board Member Kimberly Clark, ENP “The 911 Maven”

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