Mentors, Coaches, and Teachers
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it continued for years, and in some cases (with my partner Ben Wegbreit) for decades. What is interesting in hindsight is that although the relationship continued for a long time, neither of us explicitly acknowledged it.
Now I realize that what made these relationships a mentorship is this: I was giving as good as I was getting. While I was learning from them—and their years of experience and expertise—what I was giving back to them was equally important. I was bringing fresh insights to their data. It wasn’t that I was just more up to date on the current technology, markets or trends, it was that I was able to recognize patterns and bring new perspectives to what these very smart people already knew. In hindsight, mentorship is a synergistic relationship.
Like every good student/teacher and mentor/mentee relationship, over time the student became the teacher, and this phase of relationship ends.
How Do I Find A Mentor
All this was running through my head as I tried to think of how to answer the question from the audience.
Finally I replied, “At least for me, becoming someone’s mentor means a two-way relationship. A mentorship is a back and forth dialog—it’s as much about giving as it is about getting. It’s a much higher-level conversation than just teaching. Think about what can we learn together? How much are you going to bring to the relationship?”
If it’s not much, than what you really want/need is a teacher, not a mentor. If it’s a specific goal or skill you want to achieve, hire a coach, but if you’re prepared to give as good as you get, then look for a mentor.
But never ask. Offer to give.
- Teachers, coaches and mentors are each something different.
- If you want to learn a specific subject find a teacher.
- If you want to hone specific skills or reach an exact goal hire a coach.
- If you want to get smarter and better over your career find someone who cares about you enough to be a mentor.