When it comes to the discussion of generational leadership and how it is impacting today’s workplace, I can think of few topics more relevant than mentoring. In fact, if you take the time to do a quick Google search on “mentoring and Millennials” you’ll find dozens of articles from some of the foremost leadership sites like Forbes, Inc, and Harvard Business Review.

There’s no denying the fact that Millennials value mentoring. However, even those of us who’ve been fortunate to find a mentor still have the potential to “miss it” when it comes to actually making a difference in our lives. If mentorship is truly going to make an impact in our business and individual lives, there’s one thing Millennials need to learn from our mentors.

One Thing Every Millennial Should Learn from Our Mentors

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to attend Catalyst, a conference for young leaders held every year in Atlanta. During one of the sessions, Craig Groeschel, a mega-church pastor spent some time talking about the idea of mentorship and how we should approach it as young leaders.

I’ll never forget the advice he gave during his talk…

“If you want mentoring to make a difference in your life, don’t try to copy what those you are asking to mentor you do… learn how they think.” – Craig Groeschel

One of the greatest benefits mentoring provides is the ability to learn from someone who has more experience in business, marriage, parenting, and life. However, when most people enter into mentoring relationships, they want to try and emulate the actions of their mentor. Whenever we attempt to simply copy the actions of our mentor, we ultimately miss out because every situation is different.

4 Ways to Learn How a Mentor “Thinks”

As I started thinking about it, here are a few ways we can learn how a mentor thinks instead of simply trying to copy what they do and apply it to our own circumstances:

Millennial - MentorsLearn how they approach situations. How do they handle difficult situations at work? What mindset do they have about challenges and obstacles that come up along the way?

Identify the questions they ask when faced with problems. What questions do they ask to help them solve difficult issues? For example, instead of asking, “Can I do this?” an effective leader asks, “How can I do this?”

Use the resources that helped them gain the wisdom and knowledge they have today. What books influenced them the most? Where do they go for ideas and insights whenever they’re searching for wisdom?

Identify the principles behind the decisions that made them successful. What are the underlying principles behind their decisions that made them successful? How can you apply the principles to your life rather than simply trying to follow in their footsteps?

If there’s one stereotype about Millennials that I would categorize as universally true it’s that almost every single one of us desires to have some sort of mentoring relationship in our lives.

However, we’ll never fully experience the benefit a mentoring relationship can bring if we simply copy what our mentors do in various situations. Instead, we should focus all of our efforts into learning how they think. Then, we will experience the true benefits of learning from a mentor.

What do you think about this particular mentorship principle? Have you seen it used in your mentoring relationships? How has it worked?