3 types of mentors you should have and how you can work with them

To accelerate professional and personal growth, few things help as much as having a mentor. In today’s article, we are going to explain the 3 types of mentors  and how to work with them. Don’t limit yourself to one, take advantage of every opportunity!

Let’s start by remembering that a mentor is not the person who has all the answers. His job is not to make us a plan to fix our career or business. The mentor offers a different point of view and, because of his or her experience, is qualified to help us find the answers we are looking for and then be able to design the guidance we need to achieve our goal.

In a simple way, we can compare the work of a mentor to that of a coach, who identifies your skills and uses them to push you to achieve better marks, encourages you when you feel exhausted and are about to give up; he is the voice that tells you to keep going and gives you the elements you need to continue moving towards your goal. But just like the coach, the mentor is not the one who takes the field. The mentor sees you perform your actions from the sidelines and when you run into a problem, he or she connects you with someone who can help you or motivates you to come up with new ideas to overcome the obstacle.

For all these reasons we can classify mentors into 3 types.

Mentors you’ll never meet:

We all look up to someone for different reasons. It can be their work, their history, or their values. We respect people who have become icons for their achievements or contributions in some field of human activity. Many of these figures live in realities very distant from ours, or simply no longer live. 

How many musicians have been inspired by John Lennon to devote themselves to music? Examples like this can be found in all fields. Surely many writers took inspiration from William Shakespeare. Today, Elon Musk and Steve Jobs are two of the most inspiring figures for young entrepreneurs. The most important thing here is not to stay in the fascination stage, but to study them thoroughly to become real mentors.

How can you do that?

From those who are no longer alive:

You can read their biographies to learn directly from their history, their origins, their motivations and how they defined their path. Identify the issues on which you sympathize with their views and delve into the problems they had and what they did to overcome them. We tend to see only people’s successful moments, but even the greatest of them had problems, and much of their value lies in learning how they overcame them.

From those who are professionally active:

You can study your work. Follow those who are active in social networks, analyze their work and points of view. In particular, it identifies in which direction they are moving and their futures.

Mentors who don’t know you exist yet:

When you think of someone as a potential mentor, you have to consider someone who has more experience or a better position than you currently have. I always advise thinking big and aiming high, think of the leaders in your industry. If they are very successful, they are likely to be very busy and unlikely to have the time or interest to work with you. This shouldn’t stop you; from experience we know that the most successful people are also the most generous and willing to share their knowledge. The key is to remember that the relationship with a mentor has to be productive for both people and, over time, both end up learning from each other. It is very important to be honest and consider if this is the right time to work with him or her, that is, you have to evaluate if you have enough merit for him or her to be interested in working with you, because it is also an opportunity for growth for them.

Next steps:

Identify the person you are interested in working with and study their work very well. Especially, review articles he or she has published, conferences he or she has participated in, and his or her social networks.

Make a very specific list of the areas where their expertise would benefit you, and another where their relationship with you could help them. Remember that everyone has the opportunity to continue learning, successful people know that.

Make a plan to get to the level you need to work with him/her and start establishing the relationship. Don’t despair, many people may try the same thing as you and it may take time for you to begin to get their attention. Think about how you might feel about their social networking work, it offers insight that you may not consider. Offer, for example, to do a podcast of their speeches, or post their quotes on Twitter or Instagram. Make a plan to amplify your message and be seen as someone who can add value to it.

Once the contact is well established, don’t hesitate to ask him to mentor you. He may say you’re not ready, but regardless, the benefit is already yours. All the work you have done to raise your level and to deserve to work with him/her has already made you better and, if you continue like this, it is just a matter of time before you get your yes.

Mentors you know:

These are the most common mentors. They’re the ones we have access to immediately. We can pick up the phone to consult them and put our ideas to their consideration. Many times, they are the ones who warn us of problems we may have along the way, or who help us do different things to solve a problem. This type of mentor naturally includes former bosses and teachers, friends, family members, etc. For this reason, the benefit is usually reflected in both your personal and professional life.

Do not limit yourself by geographical location, if you are thinking of someone who does not live in your same city, use the technology. The relationship does not necessarily have to be face-to-face, you can schedule calls through Skype, Zoom, FaceTime or any other application. 

With this type of mentor, what you have to do is:

First of all,think of the relationship as being beneficial to both parties. In addition to thinking about the areas you want to improve, identify what you can bring to the table to benefit them.

Match your agenda to the mentor’s, never expect the mentor to match yours. Once you agree on the days, time and schedule of meetings, make a commitment to never be late or absent.

Approach him with an open mind. Some of his comments are likely to make you feel uncomfortable. That’s normal, that’s why you looked for him in the first place.

Have more than one. Look for specialists in the areas you are interested in improving, but never have more than one on the same topic.

Since we reviewed the three types of mentors you can have, my recommendation is that you have at least one of each type, and that you become a mentor too. If you’re a fourth semester student, you can do it with a first grader; if you’re a director, help a manager; if you’ve already launched your business, mentor someone who is just planning it. As we discussed earlier, the mentoring relationship will help you too. Everything changes, and every day, having someone younger who you are helping serves as a link to new trends, what better way to always be up to date. 

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