Why you should be collecting mentors

Whenever someone refers to “my mentor,” rather than “one of my mentors,” I’m a little baffled. These people talk with reverence about the one person they turn to for counsel, that sage veteran in their field who gives advice and imparts wisdom. I don’t get it because it’s different from my experience with mentors.  My career has been filled with mentors, and yes, in the early parts of it those mentors were older and wiser. But lately, I’m collecting a new kind of mentor who looks more like a peer, where there is mutual support and coaching going on. Often, my mentors are younger than I, since it’s the veterans who are looking to younger folks to demystify the new ways of work.

And rather than the idea of one exalted mentor, I have oodles of them. I have mentors in my writing life, mentors I turn to when I’m negotiating a new work situation, mentors who keep me up to speed on technology, and mentors I confer with when making big life decisions. There are also mentors for a time — like the bloggers who guided me when I was just starting out — who ultimately evolve into colleagues.

I’ve started to see mentors as an ecosystem, filled people I respect and trust in different areas of work and life. It’s not unlike that team of advisors I wrote about a little while ago, where we serve as a mutual support group. {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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