We talk so much about how to give as a leader – we want to talk about how to receive, too.

Andy here. As the year (and decade) closes, we wanted to give thought to one thing – just one – that we could suggest for the coming year that would pack the biggest punch to becoming a better leader. Because we are all leaders, one game-changing move could actually change your life, not just how you lead.

We are issuing a challenge to all of our leaders. Our one thing…?

Enlist an “outside voice.” Find a trusted advisor, an advocate. A mentor. And use the 40:40 principle. Not sure what that is? Keep reading…

The idea behind the 40:40 principle is that if you are under age 40, you need someone over 40, and when you are over 40 your need someone under 40. This relationship becomes a two-way street of inspiration through the sharing of wisdom and influence to the younger party, and offering relevance and insight to the seasoned veteran. This works. We’ve seen it. We consistently encourage you to pour out, which is necessary to leading well. But we really want to help you get poured into – and we have a few ideas of what to look for in a mentor.

  • PROVEN SUCCESS. In the subject matter you desire to succeed and master, look here first. There is no “one size fits all” mentors (those are called unicorns). Look for that person, older or younger depending on where you are.
  • BUSY. This seems counter-intuitive, but stay with us. Busy can be a deterrent if someone is unproductive, frantic, or wears emotions though the busyness. But what we are talking about is successfully busy, productive, and composed. And don’t let the busyness keep you from asking – the right busy person will be excited for this opportunity.
  • RUTHLESSLY HONEST. You don’t want a dishonest mentor, so look for someone who gives honest feedback. When Elon Musk was asked what makes him so great, he said, “Criticism and feedback.” This is the best way to learn, and an honest mentor will grow you immensely through their candor.
  • GREAT LISTENER. Listeners are learners. You want someone who listens well, as that will give you confidence that they too desire to learn and grow. Their zeal for growth and betterment will influence and inspire you.

Checking these boxes will help you find a mentor that is relevant in their area/industry, intentional with their time, values honesty, and desires to grow and inspire others. At the end of the day, the power of a mentor over a book, podcast, or friendtor is their customized wisdom to your specific needs. When this is applied across the 40:40 line, it is highly successful, and we find that it ignites real life change. That is something to get excited about!

Lastly, getting a mentor may take some trial and error but stick with it. Try these first steps.

  1. Identify someone you want to invite to coffee or a meal, or grab a call if you can’t meet.
  2. Tell them you respect their expertise in work/life and would like to hear their story.
  3. Ask good questions and let them talk.
  4. If you feel you want to continue and they are a good fit for what you need, ask if they can mentor you, being specific about your needs. Go from there.

Challenge accepted? We hope so. No better way to start a new year than one step closer to where you want to be. Let us know if you’re in!

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