I love the idea of having a mentor. In fact, I’d love to have a mentor as much as I’d love to have a beachfront mansion between Ricardo Montalbán and Magnum P.I. But I don’t own any oceanfront property, yet. And unfortunately, I don’t have an official mentor either.
To be fair, I do have a couple of sliver mentors. These are not people who teach me how to remove splinters. They are experts who I look to for insights and information about specific topics. But again, the relationships aren’t formal or consistent. So even my sliver mentors are unofficial and thinly used.
However, I have had anti-mentors. These are bosses, leaders and managers who have shown me what not to do. They are people who set examples that I intuitively knew not to follow. (Mr. Lemming, maybe we shouldn’t jump off that cliff…) They are the types of leaders that are easy to complain about. But simply complaining about them means you are missing the value they provide.
Put Them To Work For You.
Instead of complaining about your supervisor, boss or otherwise-positioned anti-mentor, go to school on them. Study what they are doing wrong. Heck, write a book about them. Or write a song about them like Johnny Paycheck did. #TakeThisJobAndShoveIt
With everything you find wrong about your anti-mentor and his or her style, write down what you should do instead. You instinctually know where they went wrong, and you know where the gap is between what they did and what you know to be right.
This is extremely valuable. It is like learning to walk by falling down or learning to ride a bike by crashing. Watching an anti-mentor at work is like watching game film of your poor performances to see your mistakes from an external perspective. Once you have witnessed the failure you better understand the right things to do.
Pro Tip: If you have had nothing but great bosses, binge-watch The Office and let Michael Scott be your anti-guide.
Don’t overlook the power of those who show you what not to do. Anti-mentors can help you grow and learn as quickly as positive mentors, because we are wired to learn from pain and discomfort. Anti-mentors are easy to find. They are everywhere. Now, it’s time to put them to good use for you.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
**If you were one of my great bosses, supervisors or managers and don’t think this is about you, you’re right, it’s the other ones.