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Leaving a Legacy

Most of us have had someone in our lives who was a mentor. It may have been an older friend who gave great advice and passed on wisdom to you.

I had lunch today with an old, valued Marine friend. Halfway through the meal, he asked me what he could do to support me in some personal goals. After lunch, I reflected upon the exchange and realized that he and I had mentored each other for the past 28 years.

Earlier this week, I wrote a post called Developing Talent, which told a story of one of my Marine mentors. This afternoon, after reflecting on that and my lunch discussion, I revisited the following roles* a mentor may undertake:

  1. Teacher – imparts skills and knowledge required to accomplish a job.
  2. Counselor – establishes trust, listens to challenges and provides guidance as necessary.
  3. Guide – helps to navigate and understand an organization.
  4. Motivator – helps to keep focused on the performance and pushing through tough times, while developing, self respect and a sense of self-worth.
  5. Sponsor – helps create challenging and instructive opportunities that may not be available.
  6. Coach – takes an active role in observation, assessing capabilities and providing feedback and instruction.
  7. Advisor – helps cultivate professional interests and set SMART career goals.
  8. Introducer – refers and makes introductions to persons or opportunities that will enhance the mentee’s career.
  9. Role Model – sets an example for the mentee to follow.
  10. Door Opener – helps the mentee network and stay in touch for professional purposes.

Mentoring is an intentional process, with both parties sharing responsibility.  Done correctly, there are few better ways to leave a legacy.

What legacy will you leave?

*Adapted from User’s Guide to Marine Corps Values.

Categories: Leadership
  1. April 22, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Great list. It demonstrates that most friends aren’t mentors. Mentors are a rare breed.

  2. April 30, 2010 at 5:37 am

    wow amazing stuff bro.

  3. May 2, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    Excellent post Marty! People usually think of mentors as teachers, but your list shows that mentoring relationships often last a long time and encompass many roles.

    It’s unfortunate that there are so many misconceptions about how to mentor and how to properly structure a mentoring relationship. This is why blog posts like yours are so valuable!

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