Enlisting a mentor begins with a simple yet humbling experience: asking for unfiltered guidance and allowing yourself to become vulnerable. Not so easy, even for the most seasoned extroverts.
Yet in today's world, the process of acquiring a mentor may feel 'old school' due to search engine reliance (the 'Let me google that for you' mantra). Over the past decade, I have noticed that more and more people value opinions in a vacuum versus an in person experience.
With endless information available at our fingertips, I argue that it is far more valuable to seek out in person experiences because those experiences tend to stick with us longer than any bit of content we ingest.
Let's go 'old school'!
This disconnect between old ways of thinking and newer, more instantaneous turnaround can be seen in discussion/chat boards, social media posts and content producers who provide lists for innumerable situations…IE '10 reasons you know you should quit' or '5 ways to decorate' your apartment in the fall.
While these two scenarios could not be more different, the underlying philosophy is the same. We as human beings have a limit to the amount of content we can ingest and while checking our phones on average 160 times a day, we subconsciously veer towards the comfort of anonymity and the security of comforting truths instead of uncomfortable realities.
Whereas you can click to another source if you don't 'like' what you read, an in person experience forces you to take a step back and evaluate, outside of the comfort vacuum, whether or not the advice is relevant or impactful. There are many dominos to this experience but it will inevitably help you down the line so that you are able to take challenging feedback in person and pivot in real time.
Crowd Sourced Mentorship Cons
This trend towards crowd sourced mentorship has many rewards but equally concerning drawbacks. While it may take a few weeks/months to book time with a mentor, or even longer to find a reliable one, we can search for answers while sipping a coffee and find neural nourishment and validation with a few swipes.
Without a doubt, it is very special to read an inspirational quote in your feed that energizes you but how long will that really last? A day, a week?
Psychology states on average, in less than 1 hour we've lost up to 50% of what we've 'seen' vs experience. Many studies demonstrate that people cite direct conversations from those they care about as having a life long impact...potentially years later!
That is the impact of an in person mentor's value, providing advice that may help now but will stick with you throughout your career.
What makes a good mentor?
A good mentor is vested in you, your hopes and your dreams while processing an objective viewpoint shaped by their experiences which inherently are going to be different than yours.
A good mentor will be excited at the opportunity to help shape your future.
A good mentor will make the time to connect, even if it requires working around scheduling challenges.
A good mentor will value that you are asking for unfiltered advice and a great mentor will challenge your worldview while presenting solutions.
If your digital searches are tailored to your liking, if your 'follows' fit your worldview and if your network is filled with like minded thinkers, inherently you are validating a bias and ignoring the simple truth is that we are wrong far more than we are right.
With these in mind, I challenge each of you to find a mentor who does not fit neatly into your world view and one who is not shaped by your own preferences. The best mentors will force you to think outside of the box we’ve subconsciously built around ourselves. And in that quest for knowledge, you may acquire a different perspective...isn't that the goal?
Perhaps the advice/guidance will be not the answer you were looking for. You may just find that an uncomfortable truth was the remedy you needed vs any sort of validation you seek within your curated digital searches.
Question for all readers!
I propose a question to anyone that reads this: where have your most valuable insights been derived from? A chat from a friend, a sit down with a parent/relative, an experience while traveling? Were they from a Ted Talk? A book? A Q&A over a coffee? Share with me your experiences with a mentor and how they have (hopefully) had a positive impact in your life