Mentor Me, Mentor You

My life has largely been a mentor free zone. I think I’ve overcompensated in some way by being more present as an advisor, mentor, coach to others. In particular, I have an interest and tried to show up in places and for people where I thought there might be a paucity of people who saw an expansive set of possibilities for those who might otherwise felt negated, as I did.


I want you to have mentors and to be a mentor to others. Why?

You are well served by thinking that someone would invest in you.

I never thought that I was worthy of being chosen. Did that somehow feed into my not being chosen. I don’t know, but it certainly didn’t help. That leap got in the way of my applying for opportunities where I pre-doomed myself. Believing that you are worthy is an important part of your feeling fulfilled in life and allowing for a fuller exploration of possibilities.

You are well served by being invested in by someone.

I’ll grant you that the someone needs to be the ‘right’ person or people depending upon the challenges before you. Whether I was struggling as a gay dude trying to figure out when/how to share that part of my life, or needed to talk to other entrepreneurs who were growing an organization or handling impostor syndrome, or even if I was seeking to meet people in a new area of work, well-chosen mentors can help you move through challenges more quickly often, but almost always more efficiently, and to greater success.

You are well served by thinking that someone would benefit from your knowledge.

I can’t think of a single person I know who could not mentor someone else. I’m a shades of grey person so I tend to equivocate when it comes to my opinions. Most of us have life and work experiences that someone else can learn from. If you are living independently after foster-care or being incarcerated, if you grew up in any situation where you differed from the majority of your peers based on the breadth of identities from neurodiversity, sexuality, size, etc., you are older than some people who can benefit in knowing what you’ve learned. 

You are well served by investing in someone.

I want you to feel the appreciation of another who values your life experiences. More than that, the process of advising others is an opportunity to refine and reflect on what you know about yourself. Making other people’s journey’s easier rather than having the “Well, I had to pay my dues” worldview is better for all of us.

I’m so invested in the above ideas that I’m preparing to launch a short new series all about other people describing their experience having a mentor and being a mentor. Whether you’ve never been mentored, or done so well, or never served as a mentor for others, or felt ineffective in that role I hope the set of interviews with some smart people I know will help you consider your journey. So, Who Mentored Me & How I Mentor Others will be coming your way soon.

If I am going to write about mentorship, I am also going to always share the following too:

  • Your mentors can be younger than you. What matters is where you need support and who has the expertise to offer that support in a way that is effective.
  • Don’t expect one person to act in the role of super mentor who can offer expertise across issues.
  • You don’t need to ask someone to be your mentor–it isn’t a state sanctioned thing like a marriage. The word matters much less than their availability to you.
  • The mentor relationship can change over time. You may grow into something more like friends or peers. Not all the time, but it is possible depending upon your relationship with the individual.
  •  You can/should take an interest in the well-being of your mentor to see if they have challenges where you might be helpful too.
  • People who use the actual words that I want to mentor you can be a mixed bag. Ask them what that means to them. Be nervous if they emphasize exclusivity or act as though you are now their property, which they use to look better to others. It shouldn’t be about burnishing their reputation, but helping you grow. You need to have someone that you can go to when you are facing your greatest challenges without fear that you will have disappointed them. 

I look forward to sharing the stories of others very soon.

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