Develop Your Own Board of Mentors

It’s typical of aspiring professionals to seek out individuals to be their mentor. The concept of mentorship is centuries old and stems mostly from the character Mentor in Homer’s Odyssey; a character who offered valuable guidance and advice. The word developed into its current definition used to describe the mentor/mentee relationships from Socrates/Plato through to Obi-Wan Kenobi/Luke Skywalker.

After a quick Google search for “Board of Mentors” it is evident that this post may be tips to serve as a reminder more than a new idea.

Priscilla Claman’s broached the topic in 2010: Forget Mentors: Employ a Personal Board of Directors

What you need instead is a board of directors for your career, a group of people you consult regularly to get advice and feedback.

Assemble multiple mentors that you interact with in many different capacities, workshop ideas with and gain valuable insight.

Develop a uniquely diverse group of people to engage with and share ideas. Diversify to include people across multiple industries, cultures, backgrounds and age groups. This will help develop you develop your own unique perspective.

Keep a running dialogue with your board of mentors. Keep track of meetings, and space out inquires to allow yourself time to put ideas into practice and develop new questions.

Be clear and focused with your message on how they can help. When you deliver a strong message to your board of mentors with each visit you are telling your own story, speaking things into existence and creating ripples in the fabric that touch places far beyond your grasp.

Get creative with board members. Don’t be confined to your interests or comfort zone. If you are in finance, connect with someone in urban design for example. Truck drivers, mayors, artists and performers – everyone has a story with a perspective. Be creative and find the value in everyone.

Don’t discriminate, elect people that challenge and even disagree with your point of view.

Perform maintenance on the board. As you develop and grow, so should your board. Relying on new and different members over time is part of the process.

Give them a reason to mentor you. How can your aspirations, connections and ideas help with their own respective journey?

Serve on the boards of others. Value your own insight and recognize who comes to you for advice.

Asses the board’s composition. Recognize and understand your own goals to develop a dynamic group. There aren’t any real cookie-cutter templates to fill out with specific mentor types.

There are lots of articles available that advise on the types of mentors that you need along with how to identify them:

Eight Types of Mentors: Which Ones Do Your Need? by Caela Farren, Ph.D.

The 3 Types Of Mentors Everyone Should Have by Melissa Stanger

Shoot to develop your mentor relationships in an organic and natural way. It’s better to go about developing your board in less rigid manner. If you elect certain people only to fill specific needs, you run the risk of putting them in a box and not reaping the full rewards of their expertise. You never want to ask yourself: “Why is my career development mentor talking to me about recent technology?” Interact with your mentors in the most dynamic way possible and try to draw a myriad of connections across many topics.

Keep an eye out, your mentors are the people that you keep running into at events, people from your past dealings and people that you discover who are on the same journey as you. I would think less about sitting down and “finding” a mentor through traditional channels and more about being aware of the people that are already around you and interesting. Who is attending all of the same events as you? Who impresses you?

Elect your board carefully. As businessman Jim Rohn famously said “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” When you develop your own board of mentors you are truly developing yourself. Strive to develop your board as a dynamic group of mentors that support your journey.

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