March 11, 2019

Mentors are the guiding lights of our life—not career, life. Utterly essential relationships that push us out of our safety net while preventing us from hitting rock bottom, different mentors serve different areas and phases of our existence. In many ways, having someone—a sagacious, erudite individual—who is your counsellor, critic and confidant all at once beats having an education. Offering a well of information and experiences, they point out your blind spots, and spur us towards excellence. Contrary to popular belief, anyone can take up this role, even your juniors. The real beauty of it is that you can and should have more than one.

1. The Industry Veteran

Entrepreneurs who have just begun their careers are in dire need of direction. As the first step is often the most onerous one to take, receiving inspiration and assurance from an industry luminary helps to ease the path. These are the people who have been there and done that, whose careers you want to emulate. Imagine having access to a portal that contains the ins and outs of the field you’re trying to break into. The industry veteran is exactly that in human form, here to significantly shorten your learning curve. Instead of spending a decade making mistakes, your career mentor could keep you from taking too many detours.

2. The Novice

 It’s safe to say the novice does not fit the typical image of a mentor, but is nonetheless of great value, particularly to business leaders who have climbed to the top of the entrepreneurial ladder. Before you underestimate and brush off anyone younger than you, consider your future target market and how they’re essentially made up of youths like your intern. Not only do they offer insights into the ever-evolving, increasingly perplexing minds of the future generation, they’re also able to advise you from the perspective of a subordinate, whether you’re a positive influence on your employees. Of course, it’s no easy feat to find someone who tells it like it is, rather than just another kowtower.

3. The Peer Mentor

Another underrated type of mentor, your contemporaries are the easiest to coexist with because you’re all on the same level. At times, they will fail and you’ll have to switch roles, but that’s what makes the peer mentor the most powerful source of encouragement. Usually your friends and colleagues, it’s useful to surround yourself with peers who are smarter than you, thus pushing you towards greater heights. Being able to turn the tables and advise them is also a tool you can use to your advantage. As you’re offering a pep talk to a co-worker, you’re subconsciously reminding and ingraining the same values into yourself.

4. The Champion

Someone who serves as your personal cheerleader, the champion advocates for you and creates opportunities on your behalf. They also double as connectors, dipping into their vast network and referring you to key individuals that are able to help advance your career. Rather than being a harsh critic, they drive positive growth by working externally. This means widening your circle (i.e. the people around you), instead of guiding your thoughts and ideas. 

5. The Life Mentor

What you do with your life bleeds into the way you run a business or build a career. With such a mentor, the values and lessons you glean from them are priceless, timeless and transcend the seemingly disparate areas of life. That’s why it doesn’t matter where you find them. They exist everywhere. You could call them your second parents. Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or not, you’ll benefit from having someone to turn to spiritually, emotionally, mentally, intellectually, financially and more. More specifically, they serve as sounding boards for major life decisions, be it a career switch or a financial investment. For that reason, if you could choose to have just one mentor, this is the one you should opt for.


[Read More: Best Practices: 10 Business Leaders Describe Their Management Style]