How to Know When You’ve Outgrown Your Mentor

There have been times when I’ve outgrown mentors. 

Early on in my business career, the mentors I gravitated towards were very much focused on things like marketing and tactics because my priority at the time was simply making money. I wanted to grow the business, and I thought that every problem was either a marketing problem or a sales problem. 

I have since learned so much. If I could go back and tell younger Michael something, it’s that was a very backwards mindset.

Early on, your mentors tend to be much more tactical in nature: 

“What do I do?”

“Do this. Do that.” 

“Give me a list of things to do. Let me try to exercise these tactics.”

But as you start to really evolve as a leader and grow your organization, you’ll find your mindset needs to shift.

You grow to seven figures. Then you start to grow to eight figures. Now you’re less focused on tactics individually and much more focused on overall thinking, decision-making, strategy, and leadership — leverage. The things that can really add a greater output to the organization itself and can create greater impact. 

I actually find that when organizations and mentors are very focused on purely marketing, that is a very low level of impact. 

I know many young leaders get caught up when they hear about some new marketing strategy — Facebook ads, LSAs, pay-per-click, an SEO algorithm update, whatever it may be — but that is such small thinking. If you could solve the root issue (which usually has to do with finding the right person, bringing them into your organization, and allowing them to own that challenge), you can free yourself up from that problem entirely. Now you’re not thinking about the algorithm update because you have somebody who is focused on those things and can help scale it. Now you’re not thinking about how to improve your intake because you have somebody who owns the intake problem in your organization. 

The greater competency is finding those people. Dan Sullivan’s got a great book called Who Not How, which explores this transformational concept of being able to solve challenges through finding and attracting the right people into your organization. 

So for me, when I’ve outgrown mentors, it’s because I think the focus early on is very tactical, and I know a lot of people gravitate towards that. Even in our Crisp Coach program, when people are starting out in an early kind of part of their organization with revenue, they want tactics because it feels like they’re getting some sort of utility. But then when they hear more strategic level types of things — hiring, people, more leverageable things — they start to tune out because they think, I just want know what to do; just tell me what to do.

But focusing on the fundamentals and elevating your thinking will get you much further as a leader — I guarantee it.

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