Who would you list as your top advisors? After friends and family, who’s next? Who do you regularly seek out for counsel and direction to help you down a path you want to travel?
If you’re like many, you may have a hard time with that last question. Perhaps you’re satisfied just the way things are—it’s enough just to manage the relationships you already have. Or, maybe you’re unsure what path you want to take and you don’t want to waste someone’s time until you get more clarity on your direction.
If either of those describes you, I’d like to persuade you to engage in a little intentional apprenticeship. Being an active apprentice…
- Expands your network. While no one else can run your race, no race is ever won without the help of others. Actively engaging with a mentor opens up the world of their network to you. If you land the right mentor, they’ll happily introduce you to others who can help you run your race even faster. The beauty of it is that they’ve already developed their network giving you a shortcut to the best resources they know.
- Fosters greater clarity. Setting intentional meetings with an advisor or mentor can be one of the fastest paths to personal clarity, especially if you’re unsure what direction to take. During the times of vocational uncertainty in my life, I’ve found short-term mentoring meetings (3-4 meetings over the course of a few months) to be enormously helpful. As we’d talk, I’d find areas where their expertise and excitement energized me, and areas where it didn’t. Noting those differences gave me insights into how God has uniquely wired me much more quickly than I could have discerned on my own.
- Avoids costly errors. This is the traditional expectation of mentors. They can help you be more successful by alerting you to potential issues that may arise and by avoiding the same mistakes they may have made. As the humorist Sam Levenson observed, “You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.” Proverbs 15:22 put it succinctly, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”
No matter how far along in life you are, being an intentional apprentice is essential to leadership; a great leader must also master the skills of being a good follower. In my next leadership post, I will explore how to be a more intentional apprentice.
What benefits have you gained from those who have mentored you?