A month or two ago now, I wrote about the extraordinary benefits of finding a dedicated mentor. Mentorship is a powerful tool; it's a relationship that can help you grow in ways you never imagined.
But a recent interview got me thinking – does mentorship need to be a long-term, ongoing commitment? Or can you also experience the magic of mentorship in short, momentary doses?
After speaking to leadership extraordinaire, Scott Miller, I believe the answer is yes. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that sometimes the most powerful mentoring moments happen when you least expect them.
This week I want to talk you through the process of finding and experiencing the power of a 'mentor moment'. If you've been struggling to find a long-term mentor, or you're daunted by the prospect of sinking time into a relationship that might not pay off, this one's for you.
As always, I like to give a brief intro to the interviewee and inspiration for this week's write-up: Scott Miller. Scott has been an associate of FranklinCovey for twenty-three years, where he helps organizations create exceptional leaders and teams.
He's also written an Amazon top new release, Management Mess to Leadership Success: 30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow, and he's reached incredible success through hosting multiple podcasts about leadership.
Scott is one of those rare people who speak wisdom every time he opens his mouth, and I was honored to have him on the show.
Scott is someone who has mentored and been mentored by many, so I made sure to grill him on all things leadership. We talked about defining a mentor, how to find one, and the immense benefits of having a career and life mentor.
If this interests you, I highly recommend checking out the entire podcast. The number of quotable moments in this interview was insane – you're bound to walk away with a head full of new perspectives and motivating ideas.
But for the purpose of this article, I want to focus on something Scott said that really challenged my perception of mentorship. He said:
"You can have a mentor in a 30-minute cup of coffee."
It's a simple statement, but it's packed with meaning. The idea that you can have a mentor in any situation – not just through a long-term, sustained relationship – is incredibly powerful.
Scott calls these brief interactions 'mentor moments'.
"A mentor moment is something that could happen in a very short conversation. Someone's wisdom can be imparted to you and completely change your life by changing your mindset, your behaviors, and your results."
So, how do you create these powerful mentor moments for yourself? That's what I want to dig into today. Let's take a look.
If you already have an established mentor, you'll know that the benefits can be huge; a good mentor can help you navigate your career, offer sage advice when you need it, and champion you to others.
For many people, however, finding a mentor is challenging. A few issues can crop up: you may not know where to start, you may feel daunted by the prospect of asking someone you respect for help, or you may have had a bad experience with a mentor in the past.
Luckily, you don't need to have an official mentor to reap the benefits of having someone to guide and support you in your career. You can also create 'mentor moments' – opportunities to get guidance from someone you respect, even if that person isn't formally designated as your mentor.
Mentor moments can be incredibly valuable, offering the opportunity to get feedback and advice on specific issues, as well as developing a deeper relationship with someone you respect. You don't need a three-year commitment and a weekly catch-up in order to reap the rewards – even a quick chat can be beneficial.
"I think people get scared about the concept of mentorship. They get worried because "I'm not going to have a year with Sylvester Stallone!" But push yourself outside that comfort zone, get that coffee meeting for 30 minutes with somebody who has achieved incredible stuff in their life, and you're still going to get something out of that."
As someone who gets to experience these 'mentor moments' incidentally whenever I record a podcast, I tend to agree with Scott. In my time as host of the Success Story Podcast I've learned about almost every aspect of business. I've interviewed entrepreneurs, thought-leaders, authors, and more.
Each conversation is a chance to learn something new, no matter how big or small. Whether it's how to structure an argument, how to deal with difficult people or simply how to be more confident in your own skin; I always walk away from a chat with someone I admire feeling like I've learned something.
And that's all from a simple hour-long interview.
Scott is someone who has been in the mentorship and leadership space for over two decades, so I was interested to hear his take on what a mentorship moment looks like and the experiences he’s had.
From the co-founder of FranklinCovey, Hiram Smith, Scott learned a powerful lesson that he now incorporates into his day-to-day outlook on life. I’ll quote what he said verbatim:
“He taught me this concept: you can see life through three lenses. I have to I ought to, or I get to. For example – I have to take the garbage out, I ought to take the garbage out, or I get to take the garbage out.
The first mentor in my book is a man named Nick Vujicic. Nick was born with no limbs, no arms, and no legs – just a torso and a head. And Nick would love to take the garbage out on a five-degree January evening in Salt Lake City. Nick Vujicic has never taken the garbage out.
And so now, whenever I'm entering a task – whether it be terminating someone, or flying to Miami from Salt Lake – I think of it this way. I get to take a seven-hour flight today. I get to be on Scott's podcast. Moving from a mindset of I have to, through I ought to, to I get to; that's a mentor moment, and it could happen in a very short conversation.”
So, how can you orchestrate your own mentor moment? You don't need your own podcast. You don’t need high-up connections with VIPs. Your mentor moment doesn’t even need to be a conversation; in fact, if you resonated with the lesson Scott shared above, you just had a mentor moment by reading this article!
As you'll have probably guessed, creating a mentor moment isn't quite as lengthy a process as finding a long-term mentor. That's one of the perks – you just need to set up one coffee date, one lunch, or even one Skype call.
Of course, you still need to find someone who is the right fit for you – but here are the things you no longer need to be as pedantic about:
1. Compatibility: Momentary mentors don't need to be a perfect fit for you – in fact, some of the most teachable moments come from those who are different from you. And, since you're not looking for a long-term mentor, you can afford to be more flexible with things like personality and working style.
2. Location: You don't need to live close by or even in the same country as your mentor moment partner. Thanks to technology, we can now connect with people all over the world in an instant, just like I do in the Success Story Podcast.
3. Time: You don't need to worry as much about whether you've got a few hours each week to spare for mentorship. With a mentor moment, all you need is 30-60 minutes of uninterrupted time to get the most out of the experience.
4. Career similarity: With a long-term mentor, you generally want to find someone who can help with both your career and personal development. With a mentor moment, however, you can focus on one specific topic or challenge that you need help with right now.
Over time, you can then expand your mentor moment network to include other people who can help with different areas of your life and career.
So, those are the things you don't need to worry about when looking for a momentary mentor. But what should you look for?
Well, your ideal mentor moment partner will have a few key things:
1. Expertise: They should be an expert in the topic or area that you want to learn more about. Decide upfront what you want to get out of the experience and make sure your mentor has the knowledge to help you achieve that.
2. Experience: Along with expertise, your mentor should also have plenty of experience in their field. This is what will help them provide tangible advice and guidance – rather than just telling you what they think you should do, they'll be able to share real-life examples of how they've dealt with similar challenges.
3. A different perspective: As mentioned before, one of the best things about having a momentary mentor is that you can learn from someone who is different from you. This can help you see your challenges and goals in a new light, as well as give you access to new ideas and perspectives.
When mentor moments just happen
With these points in mind, I want to emphasize the fact that mentor moments aren't always orchestrated; they can also just happen naturally.
For example, you might share an unexpected conversation with a senior colleague over lunch that opens your eyes to a new career opportunity. Or you might be listening to a podcast episode and hearing the guest share a piece of advice that completely changes the way you think about your business.
In fact, I've had countless mentor moments over the years that have helped me grow my businesses and improve my life. And I'm sure you have too – you might just not realize it.
However, there are definitely steps you can take to attract those moments and create more mentorship opportunities:
Spend time around people who inspire you and make you want to be a better version of yourself. If you regularly attend events like workshops, masterminds, or even just have a few close entrepreneur friends, you'll be constantly exposed to new ideas and perspectives.
Be open to advice. This one is key – if you're always closed off to new suggestions or unwilling to try anything outside your comfort zone, you'll miss out on a lot of great opportunities.
Be curious. Asking questions is one of the best ways to learn, so make sure you're always curious about the world around you and the people in it. This includes asking your mentor moment partners for their advice on everything from your personal life to your career.
Keep your eye out for role models. As you progress in your career, you'll start to notice more and more people who you want to emulate. Make a list of these people and perhaps plan to ask them for coffee or a chat.
If you want to set up a mentor moment, simply reach out to the person you'd like to mentor you and ask them if they're available for a quick call or meeting. If they're not available, don't be afraid to ask around your network for other recommendations.
The beauty of mentor moments is that they can be tailored to your needs and fit into even the busiest of schedules. There's really no excuse not to take advantage of this powerful learning opportunity.
If you've been in search of a mentor with no luck as of yet, I want you to consider this your first ever mentor moment. Here's your ticket to go out into your workspace, community, or even online network and start finding people to learn from in more informal and spontaneous ways.
And of course, I remain a strong advocate for finding long-term mentors who can help guide your career in more significant ways. But don't underestimate the power of those fleeting mentor moments that can make all the difference in your day-to-day work life.
As a take-home message, let me encourage you to think about the following points:
Who are the people in your life who make you feel excited, curious, or inspired?
What qualities do you admire in them?
How can you create more opportunities to learn from them?
The next time you're feeling stuck or need some inspiration, take a few minutes to reflect on your answers and see if you can put yourself in a position to experience more mentor moments. You'll be amazed at how much you can learn from a simple conversation or two.
To hear more from Scott Miller, check out his interview here or purchase his book here. You can also head over to the FranklinCovey website if you're interested in finding leadership solutions for your organization.