The Key to Being a Good Mentor

Someone changed the course of your life. In reality you changed the course of your life, but someone was a catalyst.

Be a mentor; seek mentors.

The greatest opportunity on earth isn’t getting things done, it’s being a positive influence in another person’s life.

A good mentor sees what you don't. Image of a dog looking off to the side.

Bad mentors:

  1. Pressure people into conformity.
  2. Give instructions but not feedback.
  3. Expect you to be like them.
  4. Talk more than listen.
  5. Don’t understand what makes protégés tick.

The key to being a good mentor:


Aspirational people unintentionally hinder themselves. They work harder than they need to. They struggle with issues that don’t matter. They worry too much.

Experience gives mentors the able to see things mentees don’t see – things about themselves, their performance, and their interactions.

The faster you stop self-defeating behaviors, the more your life will matter. Image of a person who feels trapped.


Protégés don’t see self-defeating behaviors, but good mentors do. A good mentor says, “You make decisions quickly. Sometimes that’s useful. But it makes you seem rash.”

When you see something a protégé doesn’t see, speak gently at first, but be prepared to confront resistance. Explain negative impact.

  1. You seem untrustworthy when you make snap decisions.
  2. It will be harder for you to earn a promotion if you don’t listen better.
  3. You’re causing yourself unnecessary stress when you do other people’s jobs for them.
  4. You demotivate your team when you don’t give them the big picture.


When you say, “People find it hard to trust you when you make snap decisions,” they won’t get it. Mentees think of themselves as trustworthy.

Appeal to self-interest. When they aspire to lead, say, “This will help you lead better.”


Enhance your influence by being real. Tell stories of your self-defeating behaviors. Explain how you changed. When Michael Jordan says he was cut from his high school basketball team you like him more.

A good mentor has the gift of sight.

What do you look for in a mentor?

What are some skills of good mentors?

Still curious:

The Best Mentors Do These Six Things

Dear Dan: How Do You Find a Mentor

Rediscovering the Joy of Mentoring

The Vagrant: The Inner Journey of Leadership, helps readers see themselves more clearly. Check it out.

“The Vagrant is a great book! It teaches lessons in self-reflection, humility, leadership and more and how we can learn from ourselves if we just really look in the mirror and listen to others. My entire Leadership team took this book on as a group study.” Jill left this review on Amazon.

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