5 things you should stop expecting from your professional mentor


" Mentor " is not a relationship category
  • A mentor is someone who knows more than you or has vast experiences from which you can learn.
  • Many people wait to formally confer the title "mentor" before they begin a relationship.

In reality, this connection doesn't require a purity test to confirm the mentor/mentee arrangement.

Advisory relationships work best when they happen naturally, and fail when forced. Forget the labels and absorb wisdom from brilliant people in whatever form it comes.


Too many people end up disappointed when they realize their mentor has limits.

Even the strongest relationships have boundaries.

But just because a mentor doesn't want to take on risk, or circumnavigate the ninth circle of hell with you, doesn't invalidate the relationship.


A mentor should have knowledge to share, advice on certain experiences, personal stories relevant to yours, or ways of thinking that can influence your decision-making and problem-solving.

But rarely will a mentor be your confidante, emotional support system, knowledge base, brainstorm partner, and guidance counselor all at once.

"It is important for the mentee to prioritize discussing tactical and tangible issues the mentor can help solve."


Unless your mentor is a supervisor or someone senior in your organization, the expectation that he/she will make introductions and open doors is a romantic, but misguided, one.

Instead, mentors prefer empowering their mentees to carve out their own opportunities.


You are not worthy of mentorship just because you decide so. Mentorship is a two-way street, and a mentor wants to grow with her mentee.

A mentor needs to gain something from the interaction, whether it's a vicarious experience of exciting new projects.

A great mentor won't be interested in allocating time and energy to a protégé who doesn't promise a fun ride ahead.


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