The 3 Mentors Everyone Needs

colleague and mentor

There are three mentors you need to raise your career and lifestyle and reach your goals. Before you seek a mentor, though, ask yourself: What is it I really, really need from a mentor right now? Here are some things to consider when you begin your search.

Mentors are everywhere. For a formal mentoring relationship, you can meet face-to-face or remotely, via video chat, phone call, or text messages. Your mentor doesn’t have to be shoulder-to-shoulder with you to be right “there” alongside you when it matters.

It takes a village to raise your career up. It can’t be done by one person. It can’t be done by just you, so don’t think it can be done by just one mentor.
 
Not every mentorship needs to be formal. Whether you are following a thought-leader from afar or observing leaders at work, mentors are there.
 
If you’re ready to seek a mentor, here are the three you really, really need:

The Satellite Mentor

mentorship

Anybody can be a mentor to you if you are simply following their example. Not every mentor requires a formal relationship; you can observe anyone you look up to and how they do things. You can follow them through social media and the news. You can read their books with their blog posts.

Those people can be mentors to you without a personal relationship or a formal commitment. But if you do want to know how to make connections with well-connected people, I’m kind of in love with this book on networking. There’s always something you can learn from other people if you know where to look.

The Specialist Mentor

(and the Mentor Network)
network of mentors
You can have, and should have, more than one mentor. A mentor who is really, really effective is probably only effective for one area of your life. So, they may be a mentor in their family relationships. This is that person who makes you say, wow that I just really love the way that their family interacts, or their marriage works, or I love the way that they interact with other people in social settings. They’re a mentor for you in regard to your relationships but they might also be absolutely terrible at time management at work.
 
So you have a mentor in time management. You just really think they’re on it, always punctual, always delivering work on time and on target but they are also really shy and self-deprecating, so you need a different mentor for leadership skills or public speaking skills. You might want a different mentor to show you how to network, or dress, or cook. Sure, one mentor may fit many of those things, but often the people who are best at one thing will not be best at everything.  If you feel overwhelmed at the idea of building your own mentor network, here’s a book that does the work for you.

The Guardrail Mentor

not a mentor

This is the person you look at and think, I do not want to be that person in six months. The people who are where you never want to be can also be mentors to you. Watch what they do, how they comport themselves, how they manage their relationships. Look at how they are building their career, creating situations for themselves, and take away lessons of what not to do. I call them Guardrails because you know, if you go that direction, you’re going to fall off the edge of your path. If your Guardrail happens to be your boss or teammate, here are some strategies to protect yourself from their negative influence.

 It doesn’t mean there’s necessarily anything wrong with that person; that’s just not the person you are trying to be. That they are guardrails for you doesn’t mean these people have failed at life or have no value to your industry or won’t be successful in some other area of their life. You’re just looking at something specific that would not work for you and you’re observing why it’s not working so that you can do it differently. 

You need these 3 mentors so that you can be surrounded by a network of geniuses that raise up your career and your lifestyle. The goal is to end up with, not only multiple people but also multiple layers of mentorship.

You’ll have those close, personal, maybe long-term relationships where you keep the mentorship alive through regular interaction. You have those mentors where it’s once and done; you learn something valuable and move on. And then you have those satellite mentors that are, you know, just kind of hanging out there being their amazing selves and you’re looking at them going, “that is where I want to be in 10 years.” And, of course, those guardrails are there to keep you in line so that you do reach your goals.

Interested in becoming a mentor? Start as a Satellite Mentor and lead by example. Here are some related blog posts on increasing your impact at work so that others take notice and working on your leadership skills so that you’re ready to serve when someone asks you. Need more? I like this book on mentoring because it covers a broad range of issues related to being a good mentor (and generally a good human being).

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