The concept of the young apprentice being trained by the old artisan is all warm and fuzzy…until you realize you’re not “young” anymore, at least by apprentice standards. Still, you are not too old for a mentor.
As I matured, my approach towards mentorship had to mature. The good news is that aging doesn’t automatically mean over-the-hill. Great athletes and competitors learn to adjust their game to maximize what they didn’t have when they were younger: experience. Here are a few things I’ve had to come to grips with in receiving mentorship:
1. Accepting less 1-on-1 time.
When you progress in your career, your connections (and problems!) transcend your locale, time zone, and sometimes even your own country. The areas you need help in can’t always be provided by someone within your immediate vicinity. You don’t always want them to be, either.
For example, I’d much rather receive advice from another consultant or CMO that’s solving a unique problem in a situation foreign to mine than from someone down the street. It expands my perspective and exposes me to a completely outside-the-box approach, which forces me to think critically and adaptively to my situation. There’s tremendous value in that.
The other reason you can get by with less 1-on-1 time: as you advance in your expertise, you don’t need hours upon hours of hand-holding. There’s a saying that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Mentorship encapsulates this concept. Possessing experience means you have the ability to go further off just one word or idea from a mentor. Go, you!
2. Paying for mentorship.
With age, I’ve realized I must be open to paying for mentorship. I’ve had life coaching. I’ve signed up for pricey courses that are supplemented with small group or 1-on-1 coaching. I’ve hired consultants. I’ve had trainers. I’ve paid for courses that tell how to spend my money! It’s cost thousands of dollars, but these are things I can’t afford not to pay for.
It might seem strange to spend money on yourself. But sometimes the most unselfish thing you can do is to be selfish. This is especially true when it comes to growth and development. Early in life, we pay with time and service (outside of college tuition, of course). As you get older, you’ve got to add money to that list.
3. Realizing not all mentors are older than me.
Truth is, you can learn from anyone as long as you have the right attitude. Age, or an overemphasis on it as a qualifier for mentorship, has been one of the greatest hinderances I’ve seen to growth in those around me.
Case in point: I’m Korean by descent, though I was born and raised in the United States. In most Asian cultures, age is more a qualifier for respect than expertise. Now, I’m all for respecting your elders. But when it comes to skill and expertise, we all know age doesn’t equate to better ability.
Growing up, I saw many older individuals become stubborn, insecure, and frankly stuck in their personal growth because they refused to learn from or even be mentored by those that were younger. They lost their teachability. I’ve tried my best, even when it’s forced me to swallow my pride and confront the comparison traps, to learn from those that are younger than me. What I’ve learned has been transformational.
So how about you?
What are some of the struggles you’ve had in finding mentors as you’ve aged? Have you disqualified yourself from training just because you’re older? I’d love to hear your thoughts and discuss this. Comment below!
Related posts on mentorship:
- How To Find the Mentor You Need
- Why Not Having A Mentor Is Not An Excuse
- What Every 20-Something Needs To Know About Mentors