Today, I want to discuss how and where to find an Army mentor. If you are like most officers and NCOs in the ARNG and USAR, you probably don’t have a mentor in your chain of command. If you do have a good mentor, consider yourself lucky. Regardless, you need an Army mentor, especially if you are serious about your career and want to move up through the ranks. Therefore, I want to share some tips on how and where to find an Army mentor.
Where to Find an Army Mentor
1. Veteran’s Organizations – These are probably the most beneficial, yet most untapped resources for finding a mentor. Visit any VFW, American Legion, AMVETS, or any other veteran’s organization and you will find plenty of potential mentors. Each organization has many folks who dedicated most of their working life to the military. Add in the life experiences, wisdom and maturity of these folks and you have the ideal situation. I suggest you join one of these organizations and start building friendships with people until you find someone who can mentor you.
2. Sister Units – I’m a big fan of finding a mentor outside of your chain of command, so you can talk with them in confidence and not worry about things getting back to your boss. Look for someone you respect and admire in a sister unit and ask them if they would be willing to mentor you on a monthly or quarterly basis.
3. Retirees – Within every community, there are many USAR and ARNG retirees. Many of these retirees are still involved with the unit in one way or another. You might see them at your holiday party during December drill. Take some time and get to know these retirees. There’s a good chance there is a senior officer or senior NCO who would gladly share their wisdom with you and help you solve some problems and develop your skills.
4. Books – Books are hands down the easiest way to get mentored. Why most military members don’t read 3-4 good books a month is beyond me. Just about every famous military leader has a biography or auto-biography. You can study someone’s entire life just by reading a book. And if you hate to read, there is normally an audio version available. Do yourself a favor and order a few books off Amazon each month and read them. Study successful Soldiers, Generals, battles, units, etc. I’ve learned more from books than anything else and I know it can have the same impact on you.
5. Social Media Websites – YouTube and Facebook are a great way to find a potential mentor. Just about any problem you have can be answered in a YouTube video. Many veterans gladly share their experience and wisdom with you free of charge. I suggest you join some of the military oriented groups of Facebook and be an active participant. You will meet new people and potentially find someone who can mentor you. You can also check out our YouTube channel as we add new videos to it every week.
How to Find an Army Mentor
Now that we’ve covered where to find an Army mentor, my next goal is to teach you how to do it. First and foremost, you need to humble yourself. Don’t act like a know it all. When you get around others, introduce yourself and show a genuine interest in the other person. Get to know them as a person first, and focus on building a friendship. You will need to get to know the person first in order to find out if they are the type of mentor you are looking for. You will probably need to network with 10-20 people BEFORE you find the right person to mentor you.
Once you find someone you want as your mentor, ask them if they would be willing to be your mentor. Tell them what you are looking for. For example, ask them if they would be interested in getting together for a breakfast or lunch every 90 days to bounce ideas off each other. Most people will be open to this idea. And if they aren’t open to the idea, keep looking until you find someone who is.
All successful military leaders I know of have a mentor. Remember that it’s your job to find a mentor to mentor you. At a minimum, I suggest you follow my advice about reading. That in and of itself will go a long ways. In addition, I suggest you find someone who can share their wisdom with you and help you overcome your challenges. Follow the advice listed in this article and you will be well on your way.
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let us know.
Former Army Major (resigned)
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