If you have read any number of books on success, excelling in career or life then you have probably read about the concept of mentoring. Since I was in college I have listened to others advocate for the need of mentoring relationships as a means of personal growth and development. Personally, I have had quite a few mentoring relationships that have been very helpful, that I still call on today, and others…not so much. In the past year my views on mentoring have changed in ways, and I thought I would share with you what I see could be a different trend and different model.
What I’ve seen change in my life over the past year are my previous mentor relationships and my new unconventional relationships. I believe I’ve grown more professionally, personally, and in my marriage and family as a result of the more unconventional mentor relationships that I describe below, rather than a traditional mentor relationship.
I do believe the concept and goals of mentoring are the same, but the process could be different. A mentoring relationship should be a relationship where the mentor shares their area of expertise for the growth of the mentee. Not a relationship where the mentor gets to stroke his ego, and possess a weird psychological hold on the mentee.
Below I list some of the ways I have been specifically mentored over the past year. Honestly, I’ve never really asked any of the below relationships to mentor me (kind of awkward). I simply asked for a little help.
New Methods of Mentoring:
- Books – I read a lot. In some cases, I’ve learned just as much from being mentored by an author that doesn’t know me as I have in a one on one relationship.
- Email/Online – This year I read a business book that really had an impact on me. Thankfully, the author put his email address in the book. I had some more questions, so I emailed him. Within 45 minutes he wrote me back. You may think he has nothing to do, but he is New York Times best selling author and writes for a major business magazine. The knowledge from that email was life-changing, and therefore mentoring.
- Unlikely People – I used to look for a mentor to fit a certain profile. Well, this year I’ve been counseled and mentored by a family friend over FaceTime. I never thought something like this would happen. Maybe there are people around you that you are overlooking?
- Unstructured Relationships - We often think of mentoring as a long commitment where you meet with someone on a weekly basis. I’m not sure this is the best model. In fact there is one person in my life that I consider a mentor that lives in a different state, but flies to NYC a few times a year, and when he does we spend an hour together. The best part about it…he doesn’t even know I consider him a mentor. I have other relationships like this where I can call and get advice when I need it.
I still believe in mentoring, but think the models can be tweaked. Bottom line is what works for your growth should be the model you pursue. It just so happens that I am a weirdo and learn in a variety of different ways!