Set the intention to surpass your mentor

Everyone needs a mentor. In order to achieve any level of mastery, we have to find mentors in the areas where we need to grow in next. We need to find the kind of people who want to take us on. One thing to recognize as you’re choosing a mentor: don’t hang on forever. We are in that relationship for a period of time to learn a certain thing. And our goal should be to surpass the mentor—that’s the best gift we can give to a mentor.

Now if somebody chooses you as a mentor—first of all, what an honor. But don’t allow the feeling of honor to blunt your usefulness. Remember that the best mentors know how to be abruptly truthful with the mentee. Sometimes we get stuck, and we just need someone to slap us around a little bit—figuratively, of course—to help us understand that there’s something more for us.

Years ago, I had a mentor. And I said something to him. I don’t remember what it was, but I’ll never forget his response. He said, “I’m appalled by your thinking. That’s very pedestrian thinking. That’s not how you think. You need to think at a higher level.”

I was in a room with many people, as he said that, and I was a little bit embarrassed. But it was also a game-changer for me, because I never want to hear those words again.  Instead, I want to know that I’m thinking at a deep level of understanding to add value.

Subsequently, I often think to myself as people are talking that they’re “thinking at a pedestrian level.” For me, I rarely am capable of going there because those words were so impactful.

One of my friends who was in the room that day said to me, “You know he’s roughest on you because he thinks you have the most potential so he won’t let you settle for less.”

So as a mentee, it’s not a good idea to run when somebody gets a little bit rough with you. It is how they’re showing their love for you by letting you know that they believe in you. They’re taking a stand for you having something more—beyond what you’ve ever accomplished.   Run toward it, not away.

– Roxanne Emmerich

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