Five Mentors You Need in Your Life Right Now
Originally published on June 20, 2018 by The Montrose Daily Press
Job changes. Career planning. Major leadership decisions. Conflict resolution. How do you navigate it? Do you have a crystal ball in your office with the answers (please share if you do)? Do you reflect introspectively? Ask Google? Talk to your spouse?
This week I had lunch with a friend. I left the conversation for a moment and it was as though I was an outsider looking through the window and clearly observing what was happening: She saw into my psyche. As we discussed career, leadership decisions and personal challenges, I realized she had the glasses (read: vision) enabling me to see the forest through the trees. And she courageously told me what I could not realize on my own.
Life is about “happening” to our circumstances rather than being victim to them. Mentors can provide a toolkit designed for navigating those circumstances.
Five mentors you need in your life right now:
1. The Traditional Mentor: This is the person we all think of when we think “mentor.” The person who is much older (or perhaps just wiser) than us. The one who’s been there, done that. The person you want to be when you grow up, the hero. This type of mentor might still be using a flip phone, and they may not always have a lot to say. But you know the wealth of knowledge is in there; and when they speak you best make it your business to listen.
2. The Trusted Friend Mentor: The friend I described above? I’ve never been to her house. She’s never been to mine. Yet, over lunch and professional connections, I’ve told her my darkest career moments. I’ve laid out my vulnerabilities, weaknesses and shortcomings as a leader. We share a bond over our collective faith and developed trust. She has the career experience and mom-life tips. You need this person in your life.
Find the person you want to learn from and stalk them. I’m not kidding. To get friends (mentors), you must first be a friend. Built trust and mutual benefit. This relationship has shown me so much about myself. Many of the tough decisions I’ve made have been ran by this friend. There’s a place in our conversations for talking and a place for listening. Most importantly, she has challenged me to bring my best self forward. She has pushed me to know my value and not hide behind the veil of my own “crap.”
3. The Tribe of Mentors: Shameless plug: I am a Rotarian. We have meetings 8 a.m. every Thursday and a group of friends, colleagues and companions share our leadership (and life) struggles over coffee and breakfast burritos. In three years, I’ve gleaned much knowledge and more importantly, lasting relationships.
The truth is, it can get lonely at the top. Your boss might seem like they have it all together, but there are plenty of times they have no idea what to do.
There are rumors of a CEO group in Seattle. CEOs and leaders from prominent organizations meet regularly and help each other with the tough questions. This CEO group is so tight and shares such vulnerable personal and professional information with one another that they have a “Fight Club”-esque set of rules. They never talk about it. To anyone. Not even their spouses. Because, in truth sometimes in exposed moments, they help one another with relationship issues as well.
I’m not part of this group, so I don’t know, but I would make an educated guess that this brother/sisterhood has created an amazing amount of good will in the Seattle business scene. It has helped everyone become more successful. I would suspect it has reduced divisiveness and replaced it with a business culture of inclusiveness. Because the level of someone else’s success actually has no bearing on our own …
4. The Blind Mentor: Find a mentor or friend in life who does not know “the players.” This person is a sounding board for theoretical questions. They know nothing about your work, the people you work with or what a typical day looks like for you. Their perspective is much more personal. Sometimes when someone has a complete outside perception, they are able to see things or point things out that someone too close to the problem cannot.
5. The Great Big World Mentor: Read. I’ll write this every week if I have to. Read books. Read trade magazines. Subscribe to daily tips. Read, learn, glean. Never be too good or too educated for learning something new. The written word is simply a wide-spread form of mentorship and it’s free to everyone.
The most important piece of the equation is being humble enough to ask, honest enough with yourself for the advice to matter, and gracious enough to nurture the relationship so it is mutually beneficial. Be teachable.
A true mentor is a mirror. They are your reflection staring back at you in its truest and most honest form.
Chelsea Rosty is the executive director of the Montrose Chamber of Commerce and director of Business Innovation for the City of Montrose. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.