Expand Your Mentorship Circle

Achieving our goals has gotten trickier in the last year. As we head into a new year, I would like to propose that a key factor in reaching our 2021 goals may be expanding the way we think about mentoring.  

“Mentor” is a verb as well as a noun. It’s entirely possible for someone to mentor you without being a “capital M” Mentor. 

~Rachel Cooke

The act of learning through mentoring can come in many shapes and sizes. Rather than the one expert you can learn from, let’s think broader. What are all the ways that you could access the wisdom of others that will inspire and push you to think and do things differently so that you achieve your stretch goals? 

Join me with a notepad and a pen. Think about people or situations that have been inspirational to you in the last year. I’ll reflect on a few of mine to get us started:

  1. Colleagues — When I was starting something new, I called up someone who had tried it before and asked them a few questions to get my thinking on track.
  2. Partner up — Why do it alone when I can do it with someone else who brings different perspectives, talents and insights that will inspire me in ways that help me grow? Thus the launch of the Side By Side Podcast this year with my co-host Heidi Zwart.
  3. Networks — Connecting regularly both formally and informally with people who do the same thing I do and bounce ideas around. Great fuel for one of my top 5 CliftonStrengths – Ideation.
  4. Observation — I have noticed some great leaders nearby. I love watching them and what they do and how they do it. I can be learning even while standing on the sidelines.
  5. Clients – Yep. Even the people that I serve can turn the tables and mentor me in a way that pushes me to grow as they overcome and learn through their own journey.
  6. Workshop — One, in particular, that focused on storytelling was very influential in achieving my goals this year. I also took advantage of every follow up opportunity made available for my learning.
  7. Great books — There have been a few influential books I read this year, but one of the most profound for me, was the book of Proverbs. I read one chapter a day each month which meant I read it through 12 times. That’s mentoring, too! Holy Spirit mentoring.

Formal mentoring is also important — consider one on one conversations with people who are a step ahead or mentoring with a group of peers who share the journey with you. Start there . . . then expand your circle! 

Next steps:

  1. Look back. Write down the people and situations that have influenced your growth in 2020.
  2. Look forward. Decide your plan for 2021. What learning methods can you continue? What new approaches would you add? Who or what situations can help you do that? Write them out.
  3. Take action. Decide what you will do in the next month to set up your mentor circle for your own growth in 2021. Check out the blog on what to look for and how to find a mentor from last week for more ideas.

Expand my list! I would love to hear the things that shaped your growth in 2020. What would you add to my list that might help us both grow in 2021? Comment below.

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Annie Perdue Olson

Annie is founder of Leading Better Together, guiding leaders through the relationship and people challenges that sidetrack ministry. With 20+ years of experience in nonprofit management and pastoral ministry she equips people and teams to work better together. She holds a Master of Arts in Human Resources and Change Leadership from St. Thomas University and received her coaching certification from the Center for Coaching Excellence.

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