Seven Different Mentors Your Students Need

The following is a blog post by Tim Elmore of Growing Leaders. To view the original post, click here.

One of the most common questions I receive from college students is: “How do I find a mentor?” What they mean by this is—how can I locate or identify the right kind of mentor for my personal plans?” Over the years, I’ve found the majority of students say they desire to have a mentor in their life; someone they could call and bounce a question off of; someone who is slow to judge but quick to offer hope.

A couple of years ago, Gallup released findings from the largest representative study of U.S. college graduates. The Gallup-Purdue Index surveyed more than 30,000 graduates to find out whether or not they’re engaged in their work and thriving in their life. In short Gallup wondered: “Do college graduates end up with great jobs and great lives?”

One of the most memorable findings is: where you went to college matters less to your life after graduation than how you went to college. Inside Higher Ed states:

“Feeling supported and having deep learning experiences during college means everything when it comes to long-term outcomes after college. Unfortunately, not many graduates receive a key element of that support while in college: having a mentor. And this is perhaps the biggest blown opportunity in the history of higher ed.”

The students who succeeded were the ones who said, “I had a professor or a staff member who built a relationship with me and offered counsel during my tough semesters or uncertain days. It made all the difference in the world.”

Why Don’t We Do This?
Most of you reading this article will agree—students benefit from mentors. At the same time, more of us talk about mentoring than actually do it. Some of us excuse our lack of involvement by saying we can’t find “hungry students.” Others say they just don’t know what to say to connect with students. After all, they’re . . . uh . . . different. Many of us never mentor anyone because we hold a stereotype in our minds of what a mentor looks like. And . . . alas, we just don’t fit our own stereotype.

Perhaps this list below will help.

In their insightful book, Connecting, Dr. Robert Clinton and Paul Stanley outline the seven different kinds of mentors that most often exist in our lives. Dr. Clinton was one of my professors as I did my doctoral studies and has remained a long-distance mentor in my life. I have tweaked the list he offered to fit our world today, and I offer it to you below. It is important for us to examine these seven roles for two reasons:

  1. To determine which kind we most need in our own life.
  2. To determine which kind we are best suited to be for someone else.

Seven Kinds of Mentors

Knowing your personal style and gifts will enable you to better decide what kind of mentoring role you will successfully fulfill in a student’s life. Note these different kinds of mentors below:

  1. The Mentor Tutor
    They help with basic qualities and skills of maturation. It generally involves frequent meetings, and the agenda originates from the mentor—not the mentee. Why? Because the mentee is often young and inexperienced, not knowing what they must learn.
  2. The Mentor Personal Guide
    They offer accountability and direction as the mentee makes significant decisions. The mentee may already be mature, but just needs advisement on an infrequent basis. It still involves a maturation process, but it can be done by a peer with gifts or perspective.
  3. The Mentor Coach
    They provide motivation and skills needed to meet a task or a challenge. While there is a relationship, it can be a short-term connection until the mentee acquires the ability to perform a task independently. It involves meetings that are scheduled more on a project basis.
  4. The Mentor Counselor
    They furnish timely advice and perspective on self, others, and interests or passions. This mentor enables the mentee to step back and gain a big-picture view, adding insight on issues, for a person who’s less mature, experienced or has blind spots.
  5. The Mentor Teacher
    They impart knowledge and understanding on a specific subject. Mentor-teachers are most common when a mentee needs to learn more about a new issue and the mentor has the insights needed. It can involve frequent or infrequent meetings.
  6. The Mentor Sponsor
    They give out of their network, experience and accumulated knowledge. They may not be “conversationalists,” nor know a lot personally, but they generously give from their wealth of contacts and reading. They can offer protection and direction.
  7. The Mentor Model and Consultant
    They offer a living, personal example for life, marriage, family or career. Often seasoned veterans, they embody a wise lifestyle in each life station they experience along the way. They may be people of few words, but their lives are vivid sermons.


Which of these mentor types do you need most yourself?

Which of these could you naturally become for a student?


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What Our Music Reveals About Us

The following was originally posted by Tim Elmore of Growing Leaders. To view the original post, click here.

I just read an interesting case study on the way music has evolved over the last fifty years. You know, from genres like classic Rock and Roll, to Blues, to Disco, to Grunge and Funk, to Rap and Hip Hop—and ranging from Boy Bands to solo artists. The numbers were very interesting to analyze. The rise of female artists, the move from bands to solo artists and the expansion of profanity in lyrics all seem to relay how society is changing.

There are a few highlights I thought you’d find intriguing.

Healthy Changes

  • Increase in female artists.
  • Increase in collaboration between artists.
  • Increase in diversity among artists.
  • Increase in mixed generations within artist groups.

Unhealthy Changes

  • Increase in lyrics about loneliness.
  • Increase in songs about violence and substance abuse.
  • Increase in profanity and sexual perversion.
  • Increase in songs about lust over love.

But there is one discovery I noted that is worth talking about here.

The tangible rise in the word “I” or “I’m.” We’re singing more and more about “me.” Between 2005 and 2015, “I’m” was the number one term in song lyrics. In fact, not long ago, I flipped through stations on my car radio for a few minutes on my drive to an appointment. It may not surprise you that the four songs I heard were:

  • Because I’m Awesome!”
  • The World Should Revolve Around Me”
  • Tell Me I’m Pretty”
  • “Dontcha Wish Your Girlfriend Was Hot Like Me?

Please forgive me if you feel I’m over-speaking. I’m not trying to turn all of life into a lesson or the world into a classroom. But I believe this shift is a commentary on our culture. I’ve written before that we live in a time of self-expansion. When I play sports, I am not as concerned about the team this year as I am about my own playing time. (After all, I am playing for scouts.) When I perform on a theatre stage, I’m counting my lines in the script more than paying attention to the plot as a whole. When on the job, I’m obsessed with getting noticed or being recognized; I’m building my personal brand. In life, I am about building my platform: my followers, likes, shares and views. When it comes to music, I’m obsessed with me. In the report, I identified that while musicians were collaborating more these days, there are fewer bands. In other words, artists are singing solo, but will do a “gig” or a group collaboration with other performers as long as they don’t lose their individual identities as solo artists.

In fact, while fifty years of music has always included themes like love, partying, sex and loneliness, 2015 produced a whole new category: “being awesome.” Never before has there been so much sung about me being so awesome.

What Signals Genuine Maturity

When I step back and evaluate what this says about the society we live in, I wonder if it informs us about how we’re failing to help kids mature. My short summary of what I believe about human maturation can be boiled down this way.

Maturity is generally about two feats:

  1. Discovering who I really am.
  2. Getting over myself.

As we educate and equip students, we must help them accomplish both of these feats. They must identify their strengths, their personality, their interests and passions. Once they do, however, we must help them see that life is about playing a role in a larger community—and fitting into a bigger picture. When I left for college at 18, my parents had done both. I knew I was loved and I recognized my gifts and value. Just as clear, however, was the fact that life wasn’t about me. There were thousands of other “special” kids at my college. I had to learn to play the cards in my hand and leverage them to solve the problems in front of me. My career choice was not just about “what I liked” or what “paid well,” it was about meeting a need in the community in which I found myself.

The four common categories we measure for maturity are:

  1. Biological
  2. Cognitive
  3. Social
  4. Emotional

In each category, we must help adolescents and young adults get over themselves.

* Biological—to use their bodies for the good of others, not merely for personal pleasure. They must harness their physical prowess and energy to serve people.

* Cognitiveto learn and to engage their minds to solve problems. To develop the mental discipline to handle complex challenges that will help the larger community.

* Social—to cultivate interpersonal skills to connect with the needs of others, not just my own. They must cultivate relationships in order to contribute to others.

* Emotional—to become emotionally intelligent, so that I empathize with others and add value to them. This skill separates us from the automation of technology.

When Dwight Eisenhower was ten years old, his older brothers were permitted to go out trick-or-treating on Halloween. (It was a more adventurous activity than it is today). When young Dwight asked if he could go, his parents told him he was too young. He pleaded with them, watched his brothers leave, then went into a fit of uncontrollable rage. He screamed and yelled and beat his fists against an apple tree in their front yard. His father disciplined him and sent him to bed. It was a night he’d never forget. After sobbing in his pillow for a while, his mother entered his room and sat quietly beside his bed. After he grew quiet, she spoke a Proverb softly to him: “He that conquers his own soul is greater than he who takes a city.”

As she began to bandage his hands, she told her son to beware of his anger and hatred inside. Of all her sons, he had the most to learn about mastering himself.

For Ike that night was a turning point: “I have always looked back on that conversation as one of the most valuable moments of my life,” he said. The concept of “conquering his own soul” became a significant one in his leadership in both the military and his presidency. It’s the acid test of growing up.

Let’s get beyond ourselves and help our students do the same.

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