One of the keys to success in any area of life is working with mentors. A mentor is someone who has ‘been there and done that’. Because of this, they have experience and insight that can save you a great deal of heartache and stop you from making mistakes.
It’s important to ask the right questions to get the best from your mentors.
Thoughtful questions can trigger important memories, examples, and ideas that can help you. You’ll get anecdotal infromation and context that allows you to achieve your goals, whether it’s to grow your business, go up the ladder at work, or become a stronger artist.
Here are some questions you can ask your elders, seniors at work, or anyone else you can learn from.
What are the books that changed your life?
Books that alter the way you look at life are no small thing. When the person you admire and look up to can point to a single book or few books that shaped their life, then you can be sure that you will benefit from them too.
This question can also bring you closer to your mentor since people who love a book will be eager to share their favourite reading material with others.
Which one thing do you wish you’d done differently?
This question often brings up memories that are linked to big mistakes and great regrets. And you’ll get insights or stories that can move you away from making the same mistakes in your life.
Who do you admire and look up to?
You’ll learn more about your mentors when you get the answer to this question. The mentors that your mentors looked up to will have had a strong impact in their lives.
This gives you the opportunity to find other great leaders in your area of interest. And you’ll find new sources of knowledge.
What changes should we expect in the future?
Your mentor will be someone who can see changes taking place as they happen or even before they take place.
This kind of insight can give you an edge that helps you make important changes at work and in your life.
You could pick up skills that give you a great job. If you’re a business owner, you may adopt new technologies or cater to changing customer preferences. Or you could get out of dying industries, practices, and trends sooner.
In these cases, tapping into the knowledge of your mentor can be critical, helping you thrive in the future.
Can you help me by…?
If you’ve built a strong relationship with your mentor, then it’s a good idea to approach them to ask for direct help in a respectful way.
A mentor can help you connect with a person of interest. For example, a business leader could open doors for you by introducing you to a partner, a possible employer, or some other type of contact.
You could ask your mentor for a letter of recommendation for a job posting, to help you get into an institute for higher studies, or to introduce you to an authority figure to get some work done.
Mentors are often willing to help and want to connect the right people with each other.
There’s no harm in asking as long as you’re being appreciative and respectul of your relationship with your mentor.
Hard work, intelligence, and other personal qualities can take you forward in life to a large degree. But to meet your full potential and find opportunities, you need the support of a community and to work with mentors.
And when you do get time with your mentor, it’s important to share relevant information and ask the right questions.
I’ve highlighted some questions that you can ask your mentors. These questions are thought provoking and will reveal ideas and experiences that can benefit you. Use these questions as a source of inspiration for when you work with your own mentors.