Moving On From Your Mentor

A mentor can be invaluable, but relationships change and moving on from your mentor is a big decision.  Here are Get-It-Done Guy’s 7 tips to know when and how to change the relationship.

Stever Robbins
5-minute read
Episode #208

Tip #5: Check in About Your Relationship

Once a year or so, it's worth having a conversation and asking, "How's this working for you?" If you are no longer both getting your needs met, it's perfectly fine to go your separate ways. If things aren't working for you, the worst thing you can do is quietly stew about it. Then when you finally separate, you run the risk of having hard feelings. It’s far better to separate gracefully and with mutual respect.

Tip #6: Keep Multiple Mentors

Keep in mind that there's no law against having more than one mentor! Having several perspectives on your situation can be valuable. Even just knowing there are different approaches can free up your thinking. Early in my career, my boss asked me to do something unethical. One of my mentors said, "This is the reality of working in a corporation. Everyone does it, it's no big deal." My other mentor said, "Do the right thing. You'll sleep easier." Knowing there was a culture of support for both courses of action paradoxically helped me feel more comfortable following my own values. I did the right thing. To this day, I sleep easier.

Tip #7: Your Mentor is Human

Finally, remember that your mentor is only human. I'm the kind of person who puts people on pedestals. I get very upset when they fell off. But of course they'll fall off! They're only human. Know this going in, and be selective about what you learn from them and what you don't. One of my mentors is an absolute role model for being a creative genius, but the way he manages his personal life isn't for me. So we have a strong bond around creativity, and I look to others for models of having a strong personal life.

Mentors are great. Find one. Find several. Collect the whole set. Fake it if you're in an artificially enforced mentor relationship. Use relationship check-ins to make sure things are going well. And when you're not getting your needs met, or when you have conflicts of interest, go your separate ways. And remember that your mentor is only human. But if you arrange for them to get bitten by a radioactive spider, they could develop super powers. And wouldn't that be neat to have in a mentor?

I’m Stever Robbins. I help successful people build exceptional lives, business, and careers. I provide a completely confidential, non-judgmental space where they can honestly explore options without judgment and with no outside agenda. If you want to know more, visit http://www.SteverRobbins.com.

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About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.