I wanted to say a little something about mentors. I think many people have forgotten a few details.
Let’s start with this: Mentors come into your life when you least expect and they leave in the same way. Most mentors do not stay in your life forever.
Over the last five years, I’ve had many, but six of them stick out. They are Andrew, Ben, David, Walter, Shannon and Karl.
Each of these mentors came into my life during a time when I thought I was hopeless or didn’t know what was next. Right now, in my career, I’ve reached that familiar crossroad again. The existing line-up of mentors have no answers.
That’s when I realized once again that mentors don’t last forever.
As you get to the various levels of life, you need different mentors, and mentors that are consistently playing several levels above you.
Why are mentors important?
They help you get out of rock-bottom, they challenge you, they tell you what you don’t want to hear, they give you suggestions, and sometimes, they even give you opportunities.
The crux of a mentor is to be an advisor. They don’t make the decision for you though and often they have more questions than answers.
Many people have reached out to me to be their mentor and thought that somehow, I would have lots of answers for them.
The truth is I don’t have many answers but what I do have is some powerful questions.
How will you know a mentor has arrived on the scene?
Mentors are leaders looking to create more leaders.
Not everyone fits this description. Mentors give without necessarily expecting much in return. Their return is seeing you grow, which often helps them grow. Said another way, mentors grow through you and your progress in life.
That doesn’t mean that mentorship is a one-way street.
“Many people think that a mentor is your free servant to push around and drain with 101 questions”
This idea is wrong. Mentors owe you nothing and a one-way relationship leads to Nowhereville.
With my mentors, I always try to find some way I can add value back to their life. It may not be in the same proportion to what they’ve done for me, but it’s not a competition to see who has the bigger you-know-what.
Going into a mentorship relationship with a mutual value mindset (geez that’s a fancy sounding phrase Tim!) is how you make sure you don’t burn mentors.
Just because someone has answers today, doesn’t mean they will tomorrow.
There are times when my mentors are all out of advice or they repeat the same advice over and over which I’ve already heard. That’s one of the reasons why mentors don’t last forever.
“There’s no one Yoda Mentor that will guide you for the rest of your life and career”
Mentors need to come and go based on where you are today and where you’re going.
Don’t be afraid to move a mentor on.
Sometimes it’s best to own up to the fact that regular chats with a mentor may no longer be valuable. It’s okay to thank someone for their time and move them on.
You’re in charge of your life and career remember? As long as you start with respect and end in gratitude – that applies to everything in life – you’ll never burn a mentor or another human being for that matter.
And what about you young mentee?
That’s right – when are you going to return the gift of mentorship?
This is the question I’ve asked myself recently. Mentors have been great to me and you have to return the favor. We all have hidden value and wisdom inside of us, and it’s a crime not to let it out through 1-1 mentorship.
Actually, nothing lasts forever.
Mentors are not the only thing that won’t last forever. Everything you’ve ever known won’t last forever. So, let’s not dwell on what was, what is, or what could have been.
Mentors will come and go and that’s a good thing.