I am convinced that my generation has lost the art of apprenticeship. As a millennial, I know the temptation to have everything handed to me on a silver plater. The "me" focus expects the world to give me what I need, right here, right now, instead of chasing after it like my life depended on it.
Apprenticeship can be defined in many different ways but the way I define it is the pursuit of someone ahead of you in order to learn from their ways (aka stalking, in the most innocent way). This could be in a particular vocation, life-stage or general wisdom. Apprenticeship necessarily involves a mentor and a mentee.
What I've found in the last few years of coaching millennials is that there is a lack of confidence to seek out an apprentice. There is a fear, or reservation, that haunts us from pursuing a mentor in our lives.
Here are a few tips I've learned along the way to finding a mentor:
- Look around. Who in your life is further along than you? I hope you know at least one person "ahead of you" because if you don't, you need to get out more. Is there someone that's married with kids that you want to model your life around? Is there someone in a particular field or industry that you want to get better at? Whose around you right now and consider if they might be a good mentor for you!
- Just do it. Chase after them. Send them a nice email, treat them to a cup of coffee, and ask if you could pursue them because you value who they are and their experience. Look at it this way, if they say no, maybe they weren't supposed to be your mentor in the first place.
Here are the benefits of finding a mentor:
- You'll grow. Whether that mentor is crazy smart or has tons of experience, you'll grow. As you ask questions, as you observe their behaviors... you'll learn what to do and what not to do. This information will set you quantum leaps from your peers. I promise.
- You'll be stretched. When you hang out with people that are older than you, you can't help but get better. My philosophy is "be the dumbest guy in the room." Why? Because if you are, then you can only get smarter by those who surround you. So don't be afraid if you're not "competent" enough, whatever that means. Take a posture of humility and be a sponge.
Why we don't like apprenticeship
- We want followers and not to be a follower. Our culture has skewed our perception of following others. It's bad, it's not cool and what you really need is more followers, not to be a follower! Millennials don't need to be followed by anyone other than the next generation. We should be following those ahead of us and not let our current culture change that.
- We're just lazy. Ok, stop reading this blog, binge watching Netflix or obsess over your next Instagram post. Just go find a mentor. It's that easy. Email someone right now. Ask them about their lives and say, "Teach me your ways!" Not only will they be flattered but it will set you apart from everyone else around you.
P.S. You can always email me if you need more direction or process how to find a mentor!