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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


The Top Two Reasons You Need a Mentor

I often write about how you can better mentor the students around you. I believe it’s the greatest need of the hour—kids need a guiding adult next to them.

But what about you? I believe everyone needs a mentor, including mentors. For years I’ve practiced a customary ritual in January. I take a day away from the noise and clutter of my life, and I consider new areas in which I’d like to grow. I usually come up with five or six categories, such as my communication skills, or my ability to focus, my spiritual life or my skills in negotiation. Once I choose them, I select people I know who are ahead of me on those areas; specialists who could mentor me over a monthly lunch meeting. I bring the agenda and I treat them to lunch. But, I grill them with questions that enable me to improve in that particular area.

Have you considered the top reasons why we all need mentors in our lives?

  1. Counsel. We have areas in our life we don’t know how to handle.
  2. Courage. We know what to do, but we just need a nudge to act.

Courage is, by far, the top reason we need mentors. Most of us know what we need to do; we recognize the action necessary to grow—but we lack the backbone to do it.

Consider why we need courage in our culture today:

  1. Pluralism is up. There seems to be fewer absolutes; so many “right” answers.
  2. Options are up. There are so many choices staring us in the face.
  3. Risk aversion is up. There is a quiet pressure to not take risks; to play it safe.

Mentors act like guardrails on a road:

  1. Protection – They keep us from falling off the path we have chosen.
  2. Guidance – They ensure we continue moving forward in the right direction.
  3. Support – If we do bump up against them, they sustain us on our journey.

Why not choose an area or two, and find a mentor to give you the courage you need?


  1. Connie on August 22, 2012 at 11:31 am

    I agree with this totally, but what if we can’t find mentors in the area we want to grow? I mentor a lot of people, but when it comes to me, I struggle to find someone who is willing or has the skills in the important areas I need to grow.

    • Tim Elmore on August 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm

      This is certainly a struggle. Technology makes long-distance mentors easier than ever with Skype and other cheap/free video conferencing solutions. Identifying potential mentors and building relationships with them is a continual process whether they live near or far.

  2. Josh Pennington on August 22, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Well said!

  3. SKH on August 26, 2012 at 8:39 am

    This is great! I think teachers and adults in any field need to read this.

    • Tim Elmore on August 27, 2012 at 2:16 pm

      Thanks! I appreciate you sharing it with others!

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The Top Two Reasons You Need a Mentor