The traditional mentor-mentee relationship is history! You no longer have to personally know or physically meet with the person you call a mentor. This is in large part due to advances in technology and the use of social media by great leaders and mentors. I used to always say, "I wish I had a mentor or coach to meet with me that could teach me life and business lessons and help me to be more successful." This type of thinking is now flawed and can actually prevent you from personal and professional growth. Mentors are waiting for you out there, you just need to seek them out and engage them in new ways.
Consider these benefits to having a mentor:
- Draw on their wisdom and experience: A mentor is a great person to consult when you need objective wisdom and sound advice. Often we are surrounded by people that have an emotional stake in our decisions, which can cloud our judgment. Connecting with someone outside of your current situation to get advice will help you make better decisions for you and your team.
- Receive encouragement and support: The best mentors are ones that share how they have overcome their personal struggles and challenges in life and business. They give you hope when you are feeling like you have failed or that it is too difficult to continue on your course. Depending on the relationship, they also are able to hold you accountable to your disciplines, goals, and overall results.
- Challenge your way thinking: Mentors are excellent at challenging your current way of thinking. I will often engage one of my mentors with the sole purpose of learning how they would approach an issue or challenge versus how I am currently handling it. I look for blind spots in my thinking and strategy that I would normally not see without the input from someone else.
- Learn new strategies for success: My favorite characteristic of a great mentor is their desire for continual improvement and the sharing of ideas. No one can afford to do things the same way as we have always have. Most of our industries are moving and changing too fast for us to not consider new and improved strategies for growing and developing our business. Finding a mentor that shares strategies and new approaches to business is essential for your growth as a leader.
Here are some great tools to use when engaging a mentor you cannot meet with face to face or over the phone:
- Twitter: Twitter is an excellent way to experience the day to day thoughts and actions of a CEO or leader of a company. Twitter provides you with an insight into how business leaders connect with their team and what they are reading and paying attention to.
- Blogging: This is my favorite way to connect with leaders that I am being mentored by. Reading blogs from leaders provides you with a deeper connection than most other forms of social media. You can comment on posts, engage other readers, and potentially even connect with your mentor individually. I was shocked to learn that most of the leaders I follow actually personally respond to blog posts and engage with you if you reach out to them first.
- iTunes - Podcasts: A wonderful way to grow and learn from a mentor is to find their audio teachings online via services like iTunes' Podcasts. I currently listen to three different podcasts each week from leaders across the country that talk specifically about working with clients, building teams, and leadership. Listening to podcasts is a great way to spend your idle drive time or even when you working out at the gym.
- Web Tools/Resources: Most of my mentors have written books or have websites where they offer online resources and tools for you to download. Great mentors are not afraid to give their tools and resources away for free. I've downloaded budgets, team building exercises, personal growth tools, business planning tools, and many more tools for free just by visiting my mentors website and looking for the RESOURCE tab.
Over the years I have been blessed to have the following mentors in my life and business:
- John C. Maxwell - John is a great spiritual and business leader. His books and audio teachings are priceless and have helped me develop into the leader I am today. John and I have never met personally or even talked, but his impact on my life has been profound.
- Barry Engelman - Barry is my personal business coach and friend. He and I meet a few times in person each year but spend most of our time engaging over the phone. Barry holds me accountable to my plans and priorities in life. He is someone that goes beyond the role of a mentor. He is vested in my personal and professional development and has challenged me to be a better husband, father, and business leader.
- Michael Hyatt - Mike is a mentor that I was encouraged to follow via twitter and blogging a little over a year ago. He is a best-selling author and CEO of Thomas Nelson publishing. Mike has been a huge encouragement to me in the areas of leadership, productivity, and the use of social media in my leadership style. My wife and I had the privilege of meeting Mike at the Building Champions Experience in 2009. Before that event, I had never met him or communicated with him, yet his impact on my growth as a leader had been huge.
- Todd Duncan - If you are someone that is in sales or leads sales people Todd Duncan is someone that you need as your mentor. Todd's books helped me discover my passion and purpose as a coach and leader. He has helped my team with his unique approach to selling and client engagement. I've never met Todd but he has shaped my personal life and helped my team immensely.
- John Eldredge - If you have not read John's books Wild at Heart or Fathered by God, you need to stop reading this and go buy them! John is someone that seems to have an insight into every man's soul and an understanding of why we were created. His spiritual guidance has helped me grow closer to God and my own family. His website has wonderful tools and a podcast that enables you to engage him and his ministry.
I encourage you to re-think the traditional relationship of a mentor and mentee. There are so many wonderful opportunities for you to be mentored by leaders. Look outside your home town, your company, and even your industry. Engage them with the tools I mentioned above and start growing personally and professionally with the help of great leaders. The choice to engage is yours!
Question: How are you uniquely connecting with a personal and professional mentor?
Make it a great day!