Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Are You My Mentor? by James L. Rubart
Have you connected with a mentor? A person a little farther down the publishing road who offers you knowledge, wisdom, support, or introductions to agents and/or editors?
One of the biggest surprises to me when I first jumped into the pub world was how willing established authors were to help. Many gave me an injection of hope, industry insight, and encouragement. A few turned into full fledged mentors who stayed in touch and offered any help they could.
And I continue to find authors who are ahead of me, reaching back to pull me on. And I love offering my hand to those a few steps behind.
Turns Out We’re Divinely Designed to Help Each Other
I was talking to my youngest son, Micah about authors helping me and vice versa. He said, “It doesn't surprise me. We’re wired that way, Dad. I watched this video clip on WIMP.COM of two-year-olds that instinctively help people without any prodding. It’s born into us to care—even though sometimes the world can drain it out of us. (Here’s the link if you want to check it out: http://www.wimp.com/helpimpulse/)
Uh, Jim, I've Been Trying to Get a Mentor For Years
My guess is some of you are saying exactly that right now. You’re wondering if the above is true, why you haven’t found that mentor. I wish I had a solution but I don’t. If I had to offer an answer I’d probably encourage you not to try so hard.
For me, being the mentor or mentoree has come naturally. I didn't try to get my mentors, and frankly, the people I’m mentoring didn't try to get me. It just happened. There was a connection and I wanted to help them. Or, they wanted to help me.
It’s Always, Always, Always About Relationship
Have you heard the saying, “Most people are human lie detectors?” I believe there’s validity to that sentiment. Along the same lines, I think potential mentors can tell if they’re being played. In other words are you approaching your potential mentor with respect and even thinking about what you can offer? Or it just about what you can get out of them? If that's the reason plan on continue searching.
I've had the what-are-you-going-to-do-for-me kind of aspiring author approach me and I can spot it light years away. And I can also spot the author that is humble, engaging, and grateful. I’ll take the latter every time.
In The End
They want to help you. They’re wired to help you. But a mentor/mentee relationship isn't all about you. It’s a mutual exchange of friendship, encouragement, and help.
Your turn. If you had or currently have a mentor, how did the relationship develop? What tips would you offer someone looking for a mentor? If you are a mentor, why that person? What drew you to them? Or what turns you off?
He lives with his amazing wife and two sons in the Pacific Northwest and loves to dirt bike, hike, golf, takes photos, and still thinks he’s young enough to water ski like a madman. More at www.jameslrubart.com