The Indirect Mentorship Project

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Who is teaching? Who is learning?

by Matt Cheuvront

What does the word “mentor”  mean to you? Without question – it’s a word and idea that can mean many different things to each of us, but when I think of mentor, I don’t think of the traditional definition of “teacher or trusted counselor”.

In the old days the mentor-mentee relationship was a much more formal thing, but nowadays, it’s not about seeking out that one person who will “show you the way” but rather, surrounding yourself with people you admire, respect, and recognize as thought leaders.

Who do you surround yourself with?

Enter the “Indirect Mentorship Project” (I swear I should patent this thing). I’ve been a believer in the IMP for a while now, especially the past year. Essentially this “project” involved surrounding yourself with greatness and cutting out the negativity.

You see, our generation is all about finding meaning – developing a meaningful career, integrating work and life into one happy 100% fulfilled lifestyle, and defining our legacy. But you know that? Generation X and everyone else before us wanted the same things – Our generation isn’t “special” – we aren’t the first people to be called “over entitled” – Predecessors have slapped that label on the Generation that came after them most likely since the beginning of the time.

More tools

Where Generation Y differentiates itself is in the tools we have at our disposal. We are the first generation to have grown up with the Internet – and that means we’re able to communicate and share ideas in innovative ways never conceived by the generations before us. With the click of the mouse I can consult with a friend in Paris or bounce around blog ideas with my buddy in Singapore.

The Internet allows us to openly share information instantly with one another. It also allows us to establish connections, make friends, and build relationships easier than ever before. 2009 was the banner year for me when it comes to my “online presence”. I started my blog, hopped on Twitter, and started talking to people. I’m asked again and again what my “recipe for success” has been – and honestly, it’s all about being present in the moment and engaged with other people.

My mentors

What the Internet has also done for me is help me find my mentor, or should I say mentor(s), because there are a lot of them. I am constantly pushed to do more, try new things, think outside the box, and be at my best because I surround myself with other people who are doing just that. We’ve formed an informal “support group” where constructive criticism is encouraged, honesty is cherished, and positivity reigns above all else.

A mentor is someone who focuses on the positive while limiting the negative. They should also be your biggest critic – someone who questions you, challenges you, asks “why” – but also someone who praises your success, and pushes you to reach your maximum potential.

However old you are – whatever generation you happen to fall into – we can all benefit from surrounding ourselves with quality “mentors” – we can ALL learn a lot from EACH OTHER. Just as I seek to build relationships with people much older than I who can coach me toward success, there is a lot the “older” folk out there can learn from these over-entitled Gen Y know it all’s like me. The Indirect Mentorship holds no boundaries.

What does “mentorship” mean to you? What do you look for in someone you consider to be your “mentor”?

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photo credit: Ezioman