Mentors…I’ve had a few.
Some didn’t work out. Others moved on and were replaced as my needs changed. But for most of my life I’ve had at least one really good mentoring relationship on the go, and often more.
If you’ve read my life story, you’ll know I’ve had a range of coaches and mentors over the years.
According to James Altucher’s new book, “Reinvent Yourself”, mentors can come in many forms (but you don’t need to buy the book, you can simply visit his blog site to learn more).
According to James there are many types of mentors:
• There are the micro-mentors. These people may only appear in your life for a day but in that time you have learned something new that you can attribute to that person.
• There are virtual mentors. You can learn from them by reading their books, or blogs, or listening to their podcasts.
• There are real life mentors that you meet with regularly, with whom you can build strong relationships built on trust.
• And then you do the diversity thing, which means you can have numerous mentors for all aspects of your life.
My Best Mentors
My best relationships have been with people who have built up layers of wisdom from their years of experience. But not only that, they’ve been through tough times. These people bring their courage and vulnerability to the mentoring relationship. Here’s a sample:
The personal mentor
With whom I have a formal agreement. It is this mentor’s job to look after my interests and is totally independent from my boss, my work colleagues, my partner, my family and my friends. This mentor is there to listen, challenge me, offer advice, be a source of wisdom and not judge me!
The business mentor
He’s had similar business experiences. This mentor is a sounding board for all my crazy ideas. His job is to share my journey as an entrepreneur and to compare notes. He is there, ready to listen and help when things are going wrong. He will debate ideas, offer advice and encourage me to make decisions.
The role model mentor
For me it’s been my mother, from whom I learned so much about non-judgement, grace and influence. And my oldest friend, Sue, who died within days of the diagnosis of cancer and who died with a level of dignity and acceptance that still leaves me wondering.
The formal coach
This is a more structured relationship as it relates to either my life, my work or my business. This coach takes me on a deliberate journey of discovery and learning. She introduces me to new concepts, strategies and ideas. She provides new ways to look at the world. A regular question she gets me to ask is “How should I think about this?” not “What should I do?”
My old friend mentors
This is about having someone who can be there when I don’t know what the heck to do. Just knowing that I can call them at any time, no questions asked. They’ll listen to my despair and offer their best advice. They can empathise with my struggles and listen / listen / listen. These people are treasured gems.
The mental health mentor
This mentor is a very experienced mental health professional, who cares. He helps me understand what’s happening when the nasties of depression and anxiety appear. He doesn’t have all the answers but he’s there to guide my decisions and give professional counsel. A meeting with this mentor immediately lessens the hurt and always provides me new coping strategies.
The life partner mentor
This mentor is always there, even when I screw up, because our relationship is based on unconditional love and acceptance. Having a life partner that I can share the highs and lows with has got me through the toughest of times.
I have lived with someone living with a mental illness, so I know how tough it can be. I will always be grateful for my own dear guardian angel who didn’t give up when I was stuck in the darkness for months on end.
So what do all these mentors do?
They are not there to fix things for me. They are not responsible for my happiness. I am! But they do make things better.
They help me cope when I make mistakes. They’ll point out the mistakes I don’t even know I’m making, so maybe I can take avoid the bigger mistakes. (Of course, it doesn’t always work.)
They help me ‘park’ my problems so I can get on with life – I’ve saved hours, days and weeks of worry and sleepless nights by simply being able to ‘park’ my concerns until the next meeting. And often by the time we get to speak:
- The problem has shrunk to a manageable level, usually because I’ve had a change of perspective.
- The issue has corrected itself, or someone else has fixed it.
- It has simply stopped being a problem. Because it never was actually a problem in the first place!
Have you ever had a mentor, or have you got one now?
Try it. You might like it. Or you may find it challenging.
Having a relationship with someone who will question your beliefs and values can be uncomfortable.
My advice is to lean into that discomfort and see what’s on the other side. You might be surprised at what you learn,especially about yourself!
In my next post I’ll share my ideas on how to find a mentor.
If you have any questions or you’d like to share your own experiences, please leave a comment below.