Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The three types of mentors

Who are your mentors?

Notice I said mentor(s), not mentor.

That’s because there are three types: casual, formal and indirect.

The word mentor first appeared in Homer’s Odyssey as character who served as a wide advisor.

My first “wise advisor” (other than my Dad) came in the form of a high school English teacher named William Jenkins.

It started with the occasional after-class discussion.

Mid-semester, it blossomed into a friendship.

By the time I graduated, he was my full-time go-to guy for advice on college and relationships.

And by the time I entered the Real World and started my career as a writer, he became the professional resource I needed to further my career.

That’s an example of a CASUAL mentor.

You chat informally.
You meet on an as-needed basis.
You have lunches, hang out and take walks together.

They talk; you listen.
They share ideas; you write them down.
They ask tricky questions; you spend months pondering the answers.

Then there’s a FORMAL mentor.

You meet on a regular basis.
You have structured discussions.
You set goals, parameters and expectations for the relationship.

They give you assignments; you return with homework.
They expect a certain degree of commitment; you do what they say.
They (sometimes) charge a fee; you gladly pay them for their wisdom.

Lastly, there’s an INDIRECT mentor.

You rarely meet in person.
You learn by reading and gleaning.
You might not even know each other.

They write books; you read, highlight and learn.
They do stuff really well; you watch, take notes and relate.
They set the standard in your industry; you follow their lead.

Three kinds of mentors. Three kinds of wise advisors.

Casual, direct and indirect.

And you need them all.

Because one mentor is no longer enough.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
How many mentors do you have?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Tell us about them here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag


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