Inside the Club: Could Your Mentor be Sitting Directly Across the Table from You?
One of the most difficult aspects of leading is learning about leadership and yourself. Over the years that I’ve been growing as a leader one of the more struggling aspects is truly getting to know yourself.
In leadership roles your insecurities and beliefs are always brought to the forefront. When you struggle to communicate or convey information it comes right back in your face — sometimes not in a way you’d like. However, a good leader takes everything in completely. Sure, emotions will seemingly roll off your sleeve, but it’s important that you truly feel everything and mull on it for a while.
A good leader is very introspective, but not necessarily retrospective. I once watched an interview with Coach Mike Krzyzewski, one of the greatest college basketball coaches and leaders of our era. Coach K was asked if he spends much time reflecting on the past. His response was that he tries to keep his vision forward and let the past stay in the past.
Coach K has a lot to look back on, a lot of success in his career and what he’s done for his individual players. However, he understands that all he has any control over whatsoever is the future. He can only better himself tomorrow, not yesterday.
With that being said, Coach K also said that he will briefly think back and analyze, but not over-analyze. A great leader doesn’t have time to spend time wallowing in things that didn’t go their way. They can’t think about situations with other individuals and build animosity.
Being a great leader is about caring about the individual, but leading the group. You can’t harbor bad feelings about a person, or dwell on an issue you may have had. You must look forward, repair and continue.
Over the years I’ve struggled in all areas of leadership. Although I’m a journalist, sometimes my communication is weak to mediocre at best. Sometimes I will take off on a plan without discussing the full strategy with my team. What has been crucial in my development has been a team of mentors.
For years and years I searched for mentors in my life. I would read articles on how you find a mentor or how you set yourself up to be mentored. Then one day, when I was tired of looking, I stopped looking out past the horizon and took a quick look around me. That’s when I realized I had a solid group of mentors around me already.
My grandfather actually was the one that gave me the knowledge for how to become Editor of Club Solutions Magazine. He told me that times for greatness and opportunity will present themselves to you throughout your life. What’s important is that you can identify those opportunities and capitalize on them.
After I started at Club Solutions in 2009 as the Associate Editor, our then Editor decided to resign the week before print. Our publisher was worried — he had a young 25-year-old guy and wasn’t sure what would happen to the magazine. I immediately remembered my grandfather’s words, looked at our publisher and told him not to worry, I’ve got this.
That was one of those opportunities that my grandfather was talking about. My other mentor is a good family friend. He’s been highly successful in business, and a good friend to myself. Once I realized he was a mentor I started looking at our relationship a little differently. He helped me learn how to listen to my team, how to generate ideas and see things through. I call our mentorship “The Struggle,” mainly because the things we discuss are aspects of life one has to continually work at, and are a constant struggle.
Another mentor in my career has been the publisher and co-owner of Peake Media, aka Club Solutions Magazine. This mentor has been crucial in all of my growth at Club Solutions. Without his support and insight into the publishing business, I’d never be the Editor-in-Chief of Peake Media.
We started discussing big picture problems and solutions way back when I was in my early 20s. This time was invaluable to myself. I wasn’t sitting at a desk hammering away article after article, but instead I was analyzing media from a readership and revenue standpoint. I don’t know anyone else that was given that opportunity.
Mentorship is the most valuable asset you can provide someone, or discover for yourself. Everyone, no matter how young or old should have a mentor. The relationships and knowledge are invaluable. Also, the beauty of a mentor is you sometimes don’t really even know they exist. You may be sitting at dinner with someone one day discussing life and realize the person across from you has influenced you more than you ever realized. Those are the people to hold onto, and the knowledge you must search for.
Tyler Montgomery is the Editor-in-Chief of Club Solutions Magazine. For thoughts on his blog, the print issue or the industry, reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.