Approaching the Right Mentor

Framework curated by Natalie McMullin, Manager, Communications at MindFrame Connect

Jeremy Hansen is a Canadian Space Agency Astronaut, and former CF-18 fighter pilot. Accredited since 2009, Hansen has worked with many mentors over the years including world-renowned Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. When asked how such an incredible mentee-mentor relationship was formed, Hansen shared:

“The biggest message I can convey on the topic of mentorship and being a mentee is putting in the effort to understand what you want. Not only should you be setting goals, but also understanding as a mentee what’s important to you.”

A Defining Career Moment

For Hansen, a defining career moment arrived at the start of his journey when he needed advice on selecting the correct educational path. Feeling conflicted on what choice would better serve his future career as an astronaut, Hansen connected with Hadfield to ensure he was on the right course. The advice he was given? Make sure you’re taking the route that you’re most passionate about and have the most interest in – that’s how you will excel.

While this advice is great in practice, it’s not uncommon for mentees new to the ecosystem to be unsure where exactly their ‘passion’ lies. In this Forbes article by certified life coach and speaker, Cecil Malone, he explores ‘Four Questions to Help Discover Your Passion’ for those experiencing uncertainty in both a new, or longstanding career:

1. What excites you?

2. Does a fear of change prevent you from moving out of your comfort zone?

3. Do you organize and prioritize your day around your passion?

4. How do you respond to the fear of failure?

Malone concludes that “the first step on your journey to wholeness is moving into the realm of self-awareness. Understanding your past, your thinking, your actions, and your motivations are all steps that you will take while on the journey.”

Authenticity in Mentorship

For Hansen, when approaching the right mentor, he says the answer is simple – find a mentor who is authentic, shares similar values and can provide you with the right guidance for your journey. In Hansen’s case, Chris Hadfield served as an excellent career mentor to help guide him through the many challenges that came from pursuing a career as an astronaut.  

If you’re asking yourself what exactly a career mentor is and if you need one, we turn to this detailed article from the Together Platform to dive into the topic further. In short, a career mentor is ‘someone who uses their experience to guide and help you grow your career’ and the article unpacks career mentoring with examples and why exactly it's critical in today's workplace.

Best Advice for Approaching the Right Mentor

Before approaching the right mentor, Hansen elaborates that you must first find importance in your work and understand the purpose behind pursuing a mentor to support you on your journey. Have the confidence first in yourself, and then seek to find that trait in others.

In this article from MindFrame Connect, we explore the Mentor Competency Checklist which serves as a great starting point when you’re ready to approach a mentor and ensure they’re the right fit for you.

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