Building Your Network - How Mentors, Peers, and Mentees Can Spiral You Upwards
Updated: Dec 26, 2020
People don't truly appreciate the power of putting yourself around the right people and actively building your network.
A great mentor - can change your life with valuable wisdom, gained by years of experience.
A great peer/colleague - can push you to perform to the highest of your abilities and give you a reason to keep working hard.
A great mentee - can give you the opportunity to be a great teacher, and to 'pay things forward' to the next generation.
There is a sweet-spot to managing who you put yourself around. A spot in which, if you strike the right balance, you will find yourself in a system of consistent growth, gratitude, and abundance.
Today I am going to teach you The Optimized Network – a valuable framework you can use for building your own network and who you put yourself around.
The True Impact of Your Network:
First let’s consider the three types of people you'll find in a network:
Mentors (more experienced than you)
Colleagues (same experience as you)
Mentees (less experience than you)
If you spend lots of time with your mentors – you will find yourself learning a bunch of valuable wisdom. But without any colleagues to compare yourself to, you won’t necessarily push yourself to perform to the best of your ability. Without friendly competition, there is nothing to compare yourself to or push you to be better.
And without any mentees, you will find yourself without the opportunity to be a leader, teach others, and ‘pay it forward'. After-all, teaching others is one of the best ways to deepen your own knowledge.
If you spend lots of time with colleagues, you may be able to learn and share ideas with each-other, have friendly competition that elevates your efforts – but without any mentors, you won’t have the guidance or wisdom required to maximize your potential, and you will make many mistakes that could have otherwise been avoided. In turn, you will find yourself on a longer road to success – one that with the addition of mentors, could be shortened.
If you spend lots of time with mentees, but don’t have any mentors to learn from, or colleagues to push you to be better – you will likely have a ceiling to the value that you can provide to others. In turn, you’re also restricting your growth by limiting your sources of growth.
All three components are necessary – but the question becomes, what balance is best?
The Optimized Network Framework :
The rule of thumb should of the Optimized Network is as follows:
Spend 33% of your time with mentors (those with more experience than you)
Spend 33% of your time with colleagues (those with similar experience to you)
Spend 33% of your time with mentees (those with less experience than you)
This is the balance that you should strive for when working towards your passion/purpose.
The younger the you are, the more top heavy you should be (spending more time with mentors and colleagues, for learning & motivation). In turn, emphasizing growth and building up the value that you can one day provide to others.
The older you are, the more time you will bel spending with colleagues and mentees; as mentors begin to waver off.
However, at all times you should have all three of these components in your social circle. No matter how old you get, there will always be someone to learn from that is ahead of you. No matter how young you are or early on into something, you will likely have some sort of value to provide to others.
The polarity is key, and it is has proven to be a recipe for success.
Why does this system work so well?
- Your mentors – provide you with valuable guidance, learning, and foresight (Teach You)
- Your colleagues – provide you with friendly competition and motivation to perform to the best of your abilities (Motivate You)
- Your mentees – provide you with the opportunity to teach others, deepen your own knowledge, and pay it forward (Teach Others)
With the three way balance (33% each), you are setting yourself up for a healthy system of learning, growth, and performance.
Key Group #1 – Mentors:
Mentors play a critical role in any high-performers network.
Whether it be business mentors, fitness mentors, or really any field you can think of – mentors are one of the best sources for learning one can have.
A mentor can teach you what potholes to avoid, what activities are worth your time and what isn’t, and all of the valuable lessons they’ve learned along their very own journey.
They’ve made mistakes, learned from them, and are willing to share it with you so that you don’t have to make the same mistakes, and perhaps so that you could be even better than they were one day. Often times, a mentor will see a younger version of themselves in you.
Their legacy lives on through you.
Be sure to keep this a two-way street and provide value back to your mentors in any-way that you can! The value they provide you is often a huge time-saver, and can play a big role in you being leaps and bounds ahead of where you would’ve been without their expertise.
So why are mentors important to your network?
Your mentor is often the guiding source between where you currently are, and where you want to get too.
Your mentor being someone who is achieving (or has achieved) the results you desire to achieve - they know the quickest path to get there, and the high ROI things you should focus on to get there.
In your network – the mentor plays the role of the teacher, and the source of guidance, knowledge, and direction.
When you combine what a mentor gives you, with your own inner drive, work ethic, and initiative – you have a great combination working in your favour towards reaching that next stage you are striving for.
Key Group #2 – Colleagues:
One thing all high-performers have in common is a strong competitive nature.
Michael Jordan, the GOAT of basketball, is famously known for being super competitive in pretty much everything he did – whether it be a game of Golf, Basketball, or Monopoly; MJ wanted to win, and be at the top of the competition.
When you have colleagues (people beside you) pursuing the same hustle or craft, a primary benefit they will bring you in your path to greatness is motivation from friendly competition.
Friendly competition will absolutely push you to work harder than you normally would. Its why having gym partners is often so useful, having someone there with you, is going to push you a bit more than if it were just you.
Its not that you wish them harm or that this competition should come from a bad place, its just that having colleagues to compare yourself to happens to push you to be better, through our own natural competitive drive.
If you are striving for greatness – you need to push your limits consistently to grow.
Having colleagues to compete with and compare yourself to, will do exactly this.
Economics proves it best – competition always drives innovation.
However – it is important to keep your ethics with you, and to keep competition friendly.
The minute you begin to sacrifice your ethics for the sake of winning, you risk losing it all.
As Gary Vaynerchuk says, there are two ways to become the biggest building in town:
1. Focusing on your own building and making it the biggest (regardless of what others are doing).
2. Focusing on others’ buildings and tearing them down.
Always go with #1 - making yourself better.
Tearing other people’s buildings down is never a sustainable strategy and will actually put you farther behind in the long run.
Instead - use competition and resistance as a great source of motivation that pushes your limits and triggers growth.
Life being a game of inches, having a competitive drive is a differentiating factor between those who achieve greatness, and those who don’t – simply because of its impact on behaviour.
Key Group #3 – Mentees:
When you have mentors teaching you all kinds of valuable knowledge, and you have colleagues pushing you to perform to the best of your abilities – overtime you will find yourself growing into a valuable, experienced and wise individual yourself!
The more you learn and the more you execute, the more valuable a mentor you actually become to others.
So why should you care about having mentees in your network?
1. The Protégé Effect
When you teach others a concept or idea, you actually cultivate a deeper wisdom and understanding than you had before.
It is a psychological phenomenon that has been proven time and time again.
By having mentees and teaching them your own findings and learnings, you deepen your own understanding and will often discover new, more valuable learnings beneath the surface.
This only compounds your own knowledge and expertise.
2. Paying it Forward
The second primary benefit of having mentees in your network is the feeling of purpose and impact that you feel when you truly help someone.
When you provide value and help someone early on in their life – it is a great feeling knowing that you have just changed someone’s trajectory and put them on a path to success.
When you are given the gift of a mentor (which is honestly a gift that should be treasured every single day), you almost feel guilty to not pay it forward and help the next generation (as your mentor has done for you).
It is only right that you help the next generation (your mentees), just as the last generation (your mentors) has helped you!
You will also often seen a younger version of yourself in your mentees, and the opportunity to help someone early on can be very satisfying.
The Bottom Line:
The optimized network is a powerful rule-of-thumb you should strive for with your own network. Keep it balanced!
Have mentors - for guidance and direction towards your next destination.
Have colleagues striving for the same destination - to push you to be better.
Have mentees - to pay things forward and deepen your own wisdom.
When you strike the three-way balance – you will find yourself in a position of strong momentum towards your goals.
You’ll be tough to compete with.
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My Challenge To You:
Select a field that is important to you – put yourself in an environment in which you can interact with mentors, colleagues, and mentees on a day to day basis.