Get the Most Out of Mentor Relationships

Xperience Growthblogposts

By: Carter Williams, Director of Xperience Growth Coaching & Consulting

Mentors are a key ingredient in our growth journey. They can help shine light on the path to your preferred future. The insight and knowledge that you can gain from someone who has blazed their own path before you can prove to be invaluable.

And, you probably have room to get more out of your mentors. Let’s explore what an enhancement of your mentor relationships look like.

A mentor is defined as an experienced, trusted advisor. To break that down… they have done something or have knowledge around something (experienced), you can rely on the information they provide and the space they create for you to receive what they are offering (trusted), they will help you gain clarity on the information you seek (advisor).

Your role as mentee is crucial to a successful mentor relationship. You must determine what you seek to learn. Without that, how will you know who’s experience can help you? When author/podcaster Tim Ferriss was on the cusp of his 40th birthday, he found himself looking for answers to some burning life questions. He condensed pages of self reflection questions into 11 core questions that he systematically asked to 100+ people he thought could help him. And many delivered! He received hundreds of perspectives on his questions. That exercise turned into his nearly 600 page book: A Tribe of Mentors.

Tim got really specific into what he wanted to learn and figured out who he regarded as experienced, trusted advisors who could provide insight and clarity for him.

We all don’t have to go on a journey like Tim to find mentorship, yet we need to be clear on what we’re seeking to learn. That clarity will inform us who is experienced, trusted and can provide the needed advice. Mentors can come from a variety of sources and places and it’s good to have a variety of mentor relationships.

Direct Mentors

These are people whom you know and are in a mentor relationship with. This can look like a leader on your team or in your field. Someone that you know that is experienced in some aspect of life that you are seeking to learn more about. And, you must be in a relationship where you can have recurring conversations to ask questions, gain advice about the particular subject.

I’m lucky! Chris Suarez is one of my mentors. I have the privilege of having Chris help me in business. I get to ask questions, get feedback on my thoughts & performance and use his perspective to help my leadership.

Studied Mentor

When Warren Buffett was growing up, he read Benjamin Graham’s book The Intelligent Investor and began acting upon the learnings he took from the book. That led Buffett to apply to Columbia Business School where Graham taught and the two became close and started a company together that set-up Buffett for what he became years later. It all started from Buffett looking up to the teachings from what he studied.

Through books and other resources, we can study experienced people that we can trust and take advice from the materials. You can read biographies about Lincoln, FDR, Churchill and gain a perspective on leadership. You can read business books from Jim Collins and Simon Sinek. In effect, anyone who chronicles or is chronicled could be a mentor for you.

Professional Mentor 

This takes the concept of “direct mentor” up a notch. This is someone whom you hire or get into a formal relationship with for the purpose of mentoring. As a Coach, I’m a strong advocate for having multiple professional mentor relationships in your life.

Professional mentorship is important due to the accountability of the relationship. When you form a relationship around being mentored or coached, there’s usually a set objective that you’re looking for – increased business, becoming more fit, enhancing your spirituality, whole life integration. When both mentor and mentee are clear on the objectives, you’ll both work in concert to achieve it.

Looking to shed pounds? Hire a trainer; work with a nutritionist. Re-ignite your spirituality? Work with a pastor; connect with a spiritual teacher. Grow your business while living your desired life? Hire a business coach that works holistically.

The final question about mentoring is who are YOU mentoring? What are you experienced in that you can share? It can be in your professional setting with up-and-coming co-workers. And, many high achievers cite a parent as a mentor for them. When we mentor someone else, it causes us to take our medicine. It’s hard to tell someone what to do when you’re not doing it yourself.

And, you get all the good feels! An article in Psychology Today from Eva Ritvo, M.D. says that when we help others our brain delivers “The Happiness Trifecta.” Our brains release the chemicals dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin when we are helpful. I know it’s true for me. After a day of coaching where I feel that I’ve been able to make a difference for people, I feel great. Even if the conversations were hard, I feel a strong sense of fulfillment. It’s true that the more we give the more we receive, even internally.

Make it your mission today to go find experienced, trusted advisors to help guide you down your path. And look for opportunities to help others to share the experience you’ve gained. Together, you’ll get the most out of mentorship.