The benefits of mentorship truly are exponential and I am a huge advocate of mentoring regardless of how old you are or what stage you’re at in your career. Do not let these myths of mentorship deter you from one of the most valuable kinds of relationships you can have… Reading time: 2 minutes.
“The best mentors know this: Instead of giving answers, they give better questions. Instead of speaking in absolutes, they offer points of view. Instead of giving direct advice, they share their first hand experience.” – Jayson Gaignard
Looking backwards on my career, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be where I am without the guidance of a few great mentors that took me under their wing. The benefits of mentorship truly are exponential and I am a huge advocate of mentoring regardless of how old you are or what stage you’re at in your career.
Do not let these myths of mentorship deter you from seeking out and investing in one of the most valuable kinds of relationships you can have…
Myth #1 – Mentorship is a One-Way Street
We tend to think of mentorship as a one-way relationship where the mentor invests their time and energy and gains nothing, that the benefit falls entirely to the mentee. But a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.
If we’re lucky at life, most of us will go through the following phases: Survival to Stability, Stability to Success, and Success to Significance. Towards the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we land on esteem needs, which is our need to value ourselves. First, there is a desire for competence and individual achievement. Second, is a need for appreciation and recognition from others.
We all have a deep desire to feel valued, to feel significant, to mean something to someone. Once you feel like you’ve achieved a certain level of success, sending the elevator back down is incredibly fulfilling. There’s satisfaction is leading someone ambitious and watching them grow. Being in a position teach, stretches a mentor to have a deeper understanding of whatever subject they are sharing. We’re naturally very future focused, and have a hard time celebrating our wins or appreciating how far we’ve come.
Mentorship can force a mentor to pause and reflect on their own development, and connect the dots looking backwards. It’s far from a one way relationships.
Myth #2 – Good Mentors are Hard to Find
People often assume that it’s mentors who are hard to come by, but having been on both sides of mentorship I can confidently say that finding a good mentee is harder.
I hate to say it, but we live in an age of unfocused, undisciplined, instant gratification seekers. No judgement. It’s simply a byproduct of the times. I struggle to be focused, I struggle to be disciplined, I struggle to think long term.
Successful busy people rarely take on substantial commitments pro-bono. They are ultimately investors. And the currency at our disposal is time and energy. If you want to be a mentee, remember that they would pick you because you’re worth investing in for the long term. A mentor cannot want your success for you more than you want it for yourself. They are not going to invest their time, bandwidth, resources, and relationships into someone who lacks focus, discipline and wanted to be successful yesterday.
So if you’re the potential mentee, ask yourself… Would you mentor you?
Myth #3 – You Need the Perfect Mentor
I made this mistake for a long time. I first sought out mentors who would help me grow my business was disappointed to realize that many of the mentors I sought out weren’t the ‘whole package.’
They helped me scale my business, but they weren’t a good model for physical health, or weren’t a good model for relationships. So for years I searched for the “perfect mentor” until I discovered that there’s no such thing. And of course there’s no such thing!
So don’t think that you need to find the one. Instead, create look to create a network of mentors. I have mentors who are professional athletes, I have mentors who are phenomenal fathers, I have mentors who are fantastic entrepreneurs.
I seek guidance and wisdom from people who’ve achieved a certain level of success in an area that I value and am trying to improve. I don’t hold any of them to the standard that they are the full package.
Myth #4 – Mentors Are For Amateurs.
No matter how successful you are, it’s a journey… And there’s always someone further along that journey than you. Thinking that mentorship is for amateurs is a very myopic viewpoint. As I just mentioned, nobody is the full package. Anytime you try to double down in a certain area of life, whether that be your business, health, relationships… it’s going to be at the expense of something else. Maybe you’ve focused on business for years and are now satisfied with your progress and your success in that arena, maybe your next area of focus is your health. Find a mentor in that space. Different areas of your life will need different levels of focus during different seasons.
You’re always on a journey, and you’ll never arrive.
Myth #5 – Mentorship Is Long-term, Time Consuming, and has to be Face To Face
Mentor / Mentee relationships come in all shapes and sizes. For some reason there’s this belief that you need to fit some rigid structure and sit down face to face with a mentor once a month for hours on end. That’s simply untrue. Mentorship can indeed have such a rhythm, but ultimately it comes down to wants, needs, and expectations agreed upon by both the mentor and mentee. One size does not fit all.
My mentoring relationships have taken many forms over the years from weekly in person meetings with email updates, to as-needed phone calls. Design what is best for you.
Myth #6 – Mentoring and Coaching are the Same
Although there can be some similarities they do have stark differences. A coach may not have any experience in a specific area, but may have excellent listening and “question-asking” skills. A mentor on the other hand has been there, done that and can actually show you how to do something. Mentorship is more aligned with apprenticing than it is coaching.
Simply put, the mentoring relationship is a collaborative partnership between a mentor who’s seen to have a greater knowledge, skills and experience, and a mentee, who is looking to increase one of all of these areas. It is an equal relationship of trust. Guidance and support.
Do you want to learn more about navigating the ins and outs of mentorship? Don’t miss this episode of Community Made…