Over the years I’ve become acquainted with both travel agents and tour guides—but have different expectations of each one. I only expect travel agents to help me plan a great trip; to explain where we should go, and then leave it all up to us once we got there. Tour Guides, on the other hand, are a different story. A tour guide doesn’t merely tell you where to go—he or she goes with you. Tour guides are on the journey, experiencing every site and sound along the way, right next to you. I have a higher expectation of tour guides.
This is a picture of life. You will notice as you grow, that you’ll meet people who will act as “travel agents” and those who will act as “tour guides.” Most people find it easier to be a travel agent. In fact, you’ll likely have loads of people who will give you advice…then say, “Good luck with that.” Tons of teachers, friends, coaches, employers and counselors will offer their opinion, but not get very involved in the journey. It’s less expensive for them that way. That’s why its important for you to find a handful of people who are willing to be tour guides; people who not only have wisdom and experience, but are wiling to walk with you through some of your life.
You will likely have many travel agents for every one tour guide.
Tour Guides can be friends, but often you’ll see them as mentors. They’re a step ahead of you, and are willing to reach back and show the way. They help you maintain perspective and weigh out options. Guides can be priceless. Years ago, the Harvard Business Review published a cover article called, “Everyone Who Makes It Has a Mentor.” HBR had interviewed hundreds of successful CEOs to find what they all had in common. What was the key to their wealth and success? They heard a variety of stories—the leaders were both male and female; young and old; single and married. In fact, in the end, they had just one element in common: every one of them had a mentor. They all had a “tour guide” that they felt they could call in the middle of the night (if need be) and ask for help, support or counsel.
Is it any wonder that half of the Nobel Peace Prize winners around the world were mentored by former Peace Prize laureates? Or that many of the most brilliant and talented athletes have a personal trainer? Or that so many business leaders actually pay someone to be a life coach for them? It’s not a coincidence. Travel agents are a dime a dozen. Tour guides are almost priceless.
What a Tour Guide Can Help You Do
The following are six issues mentors and mentees can talk about as you meet:
- Discover your strengths – Identify those natural areas where you add great value.
- Develop your character – Build qualities like integrity and discipline you’ll need in life.
- Determine your focus – Help you narrow down your interests and pursue the best.
- Discern your blind spots – Uncover areas you’re unaware of that could sabotage you.
- Deliver key insights – Reveal the wisdom you’ll need as you pursue your goals.
- Diminish the gap between your potential and performance.
This advice is certainly for students, but everyone needs a mentor, including mentors. Who could be a “tour guide” for you with the challenges you face right now?
By the way—you just got a sneak preview of a brand new Habitudes book to be released in January 2013. It’s called: Habitudes For the Journey, and it’s targeted for students in transition.