Having different mentors during different times in your life and your career can be very valuable. The downside of having many mentors all at one time is that you might ‘shop around’ your idea seeking confirmation bias. In a recent discussion with Larry Kesslin, the Lead Connector at 5 Dots, we explored this issue.
Larry: The idea of mentors versus a mentor is a shift as well. I had this idea as a young professional that I would find that one person. I think it’s a lot of people rolled up into one ideal.
Patrick: The only risk I see in that is that people shop for an answer that fits with their thinking. They have a pool of seven or eight people. They talk to each of these people. They give their story. They find the one that is most in line with the decision that they already wanted to make, and they go with that.
One of the most important things about being a mentee or someone who is being coached is to open your mind. The best way to do that, in my experience, is instead of your natural way of thinking, try to think the opposite. Try devil’s advocate. Try to put yourself in a position where you can be receptive to feedback that maybe isn’t in alignment with the way that you traditionally think. That’s where real learning can occur.
As long as you don’t get into this mode of shopping for the answer that you want to hear, I think having multiple people is good. In my experience, I’ve always had one main go-to person throughout my career. That person has changed. There might be a specific situation where I say, “I’m in the deep end of the pool here. I’m beyond my depths. I need to bring someone in who can help me navigate through this water.”
I’ve had that experience. Those engagements are typically finite. It might be a three to six-month engagement where you’re working with someone on a particular problem. Those have been very valuable. That’s typically the more traditional coach person, the strength coach person. I have four times in my career where I’ve done 360 feedback. There are consistencies but there are also differences.
This is Patrick Henry, CEO of QuestFusion, with The Real Deal…What Matters.