To Figure Out Your Future You Don’t Want Just a Mentor, You Want Adventure Guides.

Let’s start with today’s truth: NO ONE is an expert in what the future will hold. NO ONE. There’s a new normal emerging every day. 

Yes, super sorry folks, there isn’t a person in the world that can confidently say, “If you do x, you’ll succeed at what you want to do.”

Now I realize I’m about to be a bit of a hypocrite because I’m about to tell you to do “x” so you can succeed at what you want to do.

So, before I start sharing my advice on “Why You Want Adventure Guides, Not A Mentor, to figure out your future,” I also want you to remember this simple idea.

Your career is not a path; it’s an adventure. Adventures are full of successes and mistakes, unusual finds and wrong turns, scary nights and stunning sunsets, friends you make overcoming an obstacle and friends you make telling stories around the fire. A path assumes you know where you’re going; an adventure assumes an ambiguous future.

So which are you going to choose? A path based on yesterday’s world, yesterday’s constructs, yesterday’s rules? Or is it time for you to start an adventure? 

OK. If you’re here, I’m going to assume you’ve decided that this adventure thing might be an exciting idea. And if you’re up for that, then I’m also going to suggest you don’t want a mentor, you want adventure guides.

Why? Well, let’s keep pulling the analogy through. If you have a mentor, I’m going to assume you have someone (you think) who has all the answers and can show you the way. Have you been on an adventure with someone who knew the way? I have, and while it was lovely, it was a hike at best with great views. I wouldn’t call it an adventure. Here’s the other thing, if you dropped me back at the beginning of the trail and asked me to guide others…. Well, I’m pretty comfortable saying that it would turn into an adventure because we would get lost pretty quickly. 

Still not convinced? Here’s an article I wrote in April 2018 about how the definition of a mentor is outdated.

So what should you do? I think to navigate this exciting and unpredictable future; you need different adventure guides who can bring their area of expertise to the table. 

Who are these adventure guides you speak of? Let me introduce you to them.

The Advisor
They have expertise in their field. Just remember they’re there to give you advice and not the “right” answer. Remember, no one knows. The Advisor is here to share their knowledge on a subject you need.

The Connector
They know everyone and, more importantly, will connect you with them. Knowing a lot of people isn’t the goal; you want them to act on the connection.
Pro Tip – These people often understand that its beneficial to them to be a connector. It’s not just kindness. Why do you need this person? Nothing happens alone. It would help if you had someone who can connect you with the people you’ll need to take your adventure, or who can act as one of the other roles.

The Potentialist
These people are just FULL of possibility and ideas. In this situation, you want them to have possible ideas for you.
Pro Tip – Watch out for people who say you “should” do something. It’s a tip-off for a bit of a fixed mindset. You want the people who suggest you “could” do something. How can a Potentialist help you? You know that expression “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it?” Your Potentialist will help you “see” who you could be.

The Mirror
You know how, when you see a photo of yourself, you think, “Wow, do I really look like that?” It’s because we’re used to seeing the mirror image of ourselves, and a photo is the opposite. Try holding up a picture to a mirror and see if it seems more like yourself. The same phenomena manifests when we consider how others perceive us. A human mirror can help you understand what others might see.
Pro Tip – The mirror role is a tricky one. They have to have equal amounts of self-confidence and humility because, without them, you might find them projecting their own goals and insecurities. 

The Amplifier
This is the hardest of all the adventure guides to find. Why? Mostly because they often assign themselves this role without even telling you. These are the people in the room you’re not in talking about you in the way you want them to be talking about you. They’re often putting their relationship capital on the line for you, with no expectation of return. Can you ask someone to be an Amplifier? Yes, but the how, what, and why they should amplify you needs to be super clear and compelling. “Because I’m awesome!” is, for a change, not the right answer. 

I know I’m on an adventure. I know who my adventure guides are, I also know who’s going on this adventure with me. What makes it more exciting is that I know some of you reading this are probably thinking that I’m part of your adventure. 

I’m going to come back to what I said at the beginning. NO ONE knows what the future is going to hold. So don’t you want more than one brilliant person to come with you on your career adventure?