Six Metaphors for Effective Mentorship: Podcast #56

Today I’m excited to share with you a conversation with Andrew McPeak. Andrew is a next gen researcher, speaker, and writer for Growing Leaders. He also is the coauthor of our newest book, Marching Off the Map. Here are some highlights from our conversation.

Tim Elmore: Mentorship is one of Growing Leaders values. A leader can’t be developed in a group of thousands of people. It takes developmental relationships that provide time to grow.

Andrew McPeak: Yes it does, and the word that we use for that is mentorship—an old concept, but a timeless one. What does it look like to be a mentor?

Tim: I have put together a handful of metaphors that have been most helpful for me as a mentor.


1. Mentors Paint Pictures

Great mentors are able to paint pictures in the minds of those they’re mentoring. I think this is what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did in 1963 when he said, “I have a dream.” Then he gave us a clear picture of that dream.

Andrew: That’s fantastic. You can’t hand somebody a vision if you haven’t given them a picture of it.

2. Mentors Give Handles

Tim: We all know what a handle is, every door has one and every drawer has one too. Mentors take the body of knowledge that they have and they’re able to reduce it down to something that you can grab on to.

Andrew: Exactly. It’s really about condensing your knowledge and then presenting it in an easily digestible way to your audience.

3. Mentors Offer a Roadmap

Tim: Maps are helpful for a number of reasons:

  • They show you the big picture
  • They show you where you are
  • They show you where you want to go
  • They show you the roads to take
  • They show you the roads not to take

4. Mentors Provide a Laboratory

Tim: Science class always has a lecture portion of the class and a laboratory. In my memory, the laboratory was always the fun part because it was a safe place to experiment. Mentorship must go past conversation and encourage the mentee to experiment or take action.

Andrew: Yes, if you’re talking about something—go do it.

5. Mentors Furnish Roots

Tim: Today, very few kids have a strong foundation. I think great mentors provide a sense of foundation and rootedness. The deeper the roots go, the taller the tree can grow. The winds can’t blow it over because of the strong roots. Continue to help your mentee develop a sense of identity, a sense of values, and a sense of timeless principles.

6. Mentors Supply Wings

Tim: So roots offer the idea of a sold ground to stand on. Wings offer young adults belief and hope that they might be able to soar beyond where I have gone myself as the mentor. You may have to check your ego at the door and really empower someone by saying, “I’m going to be clapping for you as you pass by me on your journey. I have given you every tool I have.”

I hope you take the time to listen to the whole conversation. Click below to listen to the full discussion.

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Six Metaphors for Effective Mentorship: Podcast #56