Your 20’s are the only time leaders will generally mentor you based on your potential more than your body of work. Let that sink in a moment. And start thinking about how to take advantage of that.
Your 20’s are primetime for your future.
Your 20’s are primetime for skill development, professional networking, and mentoring relationships. This doesn’t mean you have to have your whole life planned out in your 20’s. But what you can’t afford to do is neglect building relationships, especially mentoring ones. There’s no easier and more natural time.
Not the stuff movies are made of.
Don’t believe me? When was the last time you saw a movie about an old guy, or even a guy in his 30’s being taken under someone else’s wing? You don’t. The evangelist Timothy was in his 20’s when the apostle Paul started mentored him. Luke Skywalker wasn’t exactly a geezer when Yoda took him in, even if he was old for a Jedi. Batman started even younger with Robin. There are exceptions, of course. The point is that if you’re in your 20’s, it would be foolish to bank of being one of those exceptions. Start now.
Single or Married 20-Somethings
I got married at 27. The mentoring relationships I formed prior to getting married propelled me into places I never could have gone alone. My wife benefited from relationships I formed with mentors before she and I even met.
- If you’re single: this is non-negotiable. Start to think seriously about mentorship. You’ll never find someone just like you, but start searching for someone who might be able to move you further along in the direction you’re going.
- If you’re married: discuss this with your spouse. When married, it’s way too easy to neglect other relationships. My wife and I have flourished because she released me to pursue mentors. She still does. And because she sowed me as a seed, we’ve reaped a tremendous return.
In your late 20’s, it gets increasingly harder to get relational mentorship unless there’s a clear agenda to groom you for something. If you’re being groomed for something, it means you’ve already shown promise. So don’t wait ’til you’re 27 or older, get started as soon as you can.
So how do you take advantage of your age?
Invest in traveling to build a network. If you’re really serious about raising the trajectory of your development, you’ve got to make this happen. Meet people repeatedly. Connecting on Twitter isn’t enough. Doing what’s convenient isn’t going to cut it. Forget the PlayStation 4 or the Jimmy Choo shoes. Spend that money on a conference with a well thought out plan to connect with people. One relationship can change everything.
What happens if you don’t? You’ll be an under-connected 30-something. To make up for lost time, you’ll become desperate. At the same time, you’ll refuse the opportunities you need to build your body of work because you’ll feel they’re beneath you. Hello, Luke Skywalker that never was.
Potential over Portfolio
Remember, your 20’s are the time you can impress more on potential and less on your portfolio. I’m not advocating anything I haven’t done. I’ve seen too many people full of potential that was never realized because they didn’t take advantage of their 20’s. My next post on mentoring will be for those my age and older. It’s never too late, it’s just that the game changes.
Question: What are you doing this week to cultivate a mentoring relationship?