Why Finding a Man Mentor Is So Essential

photo by Joshua Levin

It boggles my mind how many guys still go it alone in life. In my eyes this attitude is bankrupt. Not only that, it is dangerous.

If you are a guy who “goes it alone,” try it on that you could double your impact and accelerate your growth if you found a great mentor. If you still believe you have to suck it up and that asking for help is a sign of weakness, you are asleep or stuck. It’s 2009. We are not living in 1955 anymore.

In my own life, I “went it alone” for years. “I don’t need anyone’s help” was one of my mantras.  Even though I had great friends and guys I could probably lean on, I never did. Not only that, when I felt challenged in my life, most guys tried to fix it or make me feel better. It took me years to realize that’s not what I needed.

What I needed was someone to hear me, understand me, call BS on me, and then help me move forward and find solutions to my own challenges. I needed someone to teach me how to trust myself, how to love myself and how to have more successful relationships. However, that said, I just wasn’t ready.

A lot of you walk around with the complaint, “nobody understands me.” My question for you is “Do you let anyone try?”

Let’s face it, we men have a lot of unconscious blocks that keep us from the things we want–deeply satisfying relationships, money, the right job, and happiness. Men tend to blame the outside, not knowing that it’s coming from the inside.

Now, if you had a mentor, you would begin to realize that YOU are the issue in your life. YOU are the person that needs a big fat course correction. YOU are the one who could use some feedback, love, guidance, and support.

So, remember, if you know that you may benefit from a mentor, the first rule of thumb is that you have to want one. It doesn’t do a lot of good if you are not open or “coachable.”

When I was younger, I had no real mentor. Now I have several.

What exactly is a mentor? Here’s how Dictionary.com defines it:


[men-tawr, -ter]  Show IPA –noun

1. a wise and trusted counselor or teacher.

2. an influential senior sponsor or supporter.

Let’s look a few types of mentors and you will get a sense of what kind of mentorship might benefit you.

Types of mentors:

  1. The Mentor
  2. The relationship mentor
  3. The spiritual mentor
  4. The professional mentor
  5. The Coach


Let’s look at all three in detail and then determine how to find one.

1. The Mentor

The Mentor is an all encompassing mentor in your life. He is a respected, trustworthy man with far more experience than you in the area you want feedback in. He is not necessarily older than you. He is living his entire life in a way you want to emulate.

The key point here is to find someone you can really walks his talk. You know the man I’m talking about. You respect him immediately and trust him immediately. You’d follow him into a battle zone because he exudes that kind of strength, confidence, fearlessness, and wisdom.

At the same time this man is humble and a good listener. He’s not perfect and he fails at times. He admits his mistakes and learns from them.  He doesn’t give advice and tell you what to do. He knows the potential answer, but will let you find it.

This man is not afraid to cut through your bullshit games and tell you like it is. At the same time, you feel as though this man will love you through any storm you might go through.

This guy is also available. He’s not so busy he doesn’t have time to meet with you, chat on the phone, skype or whatever. He makes time for you and this is one of the things you respect about him.

Remember this: A mentor is NOT a “buddy” that confirms your ego. It’s a man who challenges you to your core and supports you in becoming the man you need to be.

2. The relationship mentor

A relationship mentor is essentially like a good therapist or counselor. I mention therapist here because a lot of men don’t consider this as a possibility. Within the structure and framework of a therapeutic relationship, major transformation can happen relationally.

A therapist can teach you about self-acceptance, and can assist you in working through old relationship hurts and traumas. A therapist can show you what is possible with deep intimacy which can help you really open your heart to another person. A good therapist has a solid “inner psychology” tool kit. They will sniff out your core wounds and beliefs quickly and offer you ways to move through them.

The problem with therapy isn’t that “shrinks” are full of themselves and sit there analyzing and judging you. The problem is finding a good one. There are very few talented, skilled therapists out there. Just because they have a PhD doesn’t mean they are going to be a good fit for you, or have the skills to really support you.

A relationship mentor is a relationship samurai. His relationship life is sound and he works consciously with his own relationship challenges.

3. The spiritual mentor

The spiritual mentor is a teacher, adviser, priest, or shaman that is living a spiritual life and embodying the spiritual teachings you wish to learn.  He has a sound understanding of the spiritual path he walks and lets you find, and walk, yours.

If you want to learn about Islam, you find a man living it. If you want to learn how to meditate you seek out an experienced, respected teacher of meditation and learn from him. If your thing is prayer, you find a man living his life through prayer and eat up his knowledge.

4. The professional mentor

This guy has his professional life handled and he inspires you to get yours handled. Perhaps he is a professional executive or entrepreneur and becomes a beacon of what is possible in your own professional life.

If you want to make more money, you find someone who has made a lot of it and can coach you about how to do the same.

For example, my own father is a professional mentor to me in some ways and in areas he’s lacking, such as internet marketing, I have other professional mentors I learn from.

5. The coach

A coach can be a great cheerleader or vision buddy about where you are headed in your life. Coaches are great with results, timetables and accountability.

Similar to therapy, there are very few great life coaches.  Just because one is “certified” doesn’t mean he’s better.

I work with men who have had bad experiences in both psychotherapy and coaching. I too have had “bad therapy” and “bad coaching.”  It’s painful, and if you find yourself working with someone and they are not really helping you, fire them.

But, if you find the right fit, a great coach can become a real mentor to help you reach your own goals and see what stands in the way. He may not be living his life as you want yours, but this is less important with a coach. His job is to coach you toward what you want.

Ultimately, a good coach or counselor will help you find your own answers, just like a good mentor. When someone is always giving you advice and telling you what you should do, run the other way.

So, let’s say you are open to finding a mentor now. Where do you start? It depends on which type of mentor you are going after of course, but here are a few general guidelines to consider:

  1. Do your homework and know what kind of mentor you want.
  2. Put yourself in a position to meet with the men you are drawn to. For example, if you want support in the business world, join a business group of some kind. Cold call men you already know who are crushing it in the business world. Attend workshops, seminars, and trainings that are run by this man.
  3. Interview or meet with several people. It is rare to find a good match on the first try, especially if you have never done this.
  4. Read up on them. Google them. Find out more about them, their background, skillset etc.
  5. Ideally speak to them on the phone or in person. It’s hard to get a sense of someone until you speak to or meet with them.
  6. Go with your gut. Ultimately credentials don’t mean squat. It’s really about who they are, versus how many degrees they have. Trust your instincts.
  7. Trust is the bottom line. You want to be able to trust this person emphatically.
  8. The Red Flag–If he isn’t held accountable by someone, run the other direction. Any man who does not surround himself with folks that keep him growing with a feedback loop isn’t trustable in my mind. I can’t tell you how many older men I’ve worked “under” that have made it to the top of their game and then stop learning. That kind of man is as good as dead in my eyes. He must be growing always and have support in seeing his shadow.

Can I have a Woman mentor?

A lot of guys will choose a female mentor because men are generally more comfortable sharing their vulnerability, weaknesses, etc with a woman, rather than with another man. This is fine and might be where you need to start.

But eventually a man needs another mentor who is a man. Why? In my experience, through the work I’ve done with men for years, there’s something that happens “man to man” that is simply different than woman to man.

But why not have both? I recommend having a woman mentor and a man mentor. Why not? Women always offer me something men are not able to offer. And vice versa with male mentors.


If you still believe that “asking for help is a sign of weakness,” keep “going it alone” and see what kind of life and relationships await you. Trust me, it’s okay to ask for feedback and support. In fact, it helps me trust and respect you more.

To read more about Man mentors and some other opinions on the matter, check out William Harryman’s post here and his review of The Art of Manliness post that inspired this blog.

Become a mentor

Once you have learning from a mentor down, it is time to become a mentor to other men. Stay tuned for that post coming soon.

“when the student is ready the teacher appears.”


  • Ryan Oelke

    Reply Reply February 24, 2009

    Hey Jayson – awesome post. I really appreciate your direct, no BS style.

    I can personally attest to the fact that finding a good therapist and coach is difficult and degrees don’t mean shit. I have an MSEd in Counseling and graduated with several peers. Some were good. Some sucked something awful:)

    I think that a skilled therapist can be wonderful and I’ve worked with one for some of my own stuff, but I’m not sure they can ever be a true mentor.

    So far, I’m finding that my men friends, my new men’s group, and the coaching I did with Tripp to be some the source of some of the biggest, most meaningful change and growth I’ve ever experienced in life. It’s also awakened a strong desire to have mentors in my life.

    My question, are men stepping up to be mentors? I know that in seeking a mentor, that responsibility is mine, and that as a man I also need to reach out to younger men that want/need my mentorship. It seems that our society is extremely deficient in embracing mentorship for men, so I wonder. It would be great to read a complimentary post that challenges men to be mentors:)


    • Anonymous

      Reply Reply February 24, 2009


      Well said. You bring up a good point about a therapist not being a true mentor. It’s a tricky role, but from my own experience both as a client and as a therapist, mentoring is happening. I think both are good. The basic point? Choose to learn humbly from other men you trust and respect and have an ongoing relationship with them. Be willing to be a student.

      With regards to challenging us to be mentors, I’ll put something up soon on that one. Great observation and thanks again!


  • Joshua

    Reply Reply March 1, 2009

    Hi Jason,

    Thank you for posting this.

    “What I needed was someone to hear me, call BS on me, understand me, then help me move forward and find my own solutions to my own challenges. I needed someone to teach me how to trust myself, how to love myself and how to have more successful relationships.”

    It is exactly this that I need in my life and that’s why I am grateful to have been accepted for the Revolutionary Man Training. Now off to finish up my committments for the day ! 🙂 Joshua Gribschaw-Beck

  • Heinz

    Reply Reply October 23, 2009

    That is a good topic and it is great that you are writing about it.

    To be honest, I do not have a mentor, but would like to have one in the field of
    business and entrepreneurship.
    I tried to figure out for my self how to make a business and read several books,
    about lasting success, conscious business and how to turn my passion into money.
    Still it did not work out yet.
    I thought, so many people did it by there own, so I can do it like them. I want to show my dad, my friends, the society that I can do it.

    But I am with you and see that for many people, as well me, it is easier to find a
    mentor, teacher, sponsor or alike, to learn how to do it.
    Even in other areas like learning play guitar or piano we learn faster with somebody
    who knows how to play.

  • Bill

    Reply Reply October 23, 2009

    Great topic (does anyone ever say it’s a bad topic?)

    I’ve got a few mentors, each with different strengths and weaknesses.
    A is an older woman who is great with relationships and general upsets.
    J is male, a few years younger but with vast experience who is great about confidence, women, and diving into the fire.
    M is a woman (and my girl friend) excellent for general issues (both outside and inside our relationship)
    L is male – very seasoned and successful business mentoring.

    I’m also mentoring a few people on relationships and starting small businesses.

    The practice of mentoring is incredibly valuable as a way to remind myself of what I know and get insights into myself from the honest communications of my mentees.


  • Coach T.I.A

    Reply Reply October 23, 2009

    Excellent distinctions! I recently decided to get a mentor and struggle with what a mentor meant to me – wish I’d seen your post sooner 🙂 All’s well though, ended up getting two mentors ~ spiritual and business! Gonna tweet this now. Tia @TiaSparkles

  • Carlos Barsy

    Reply Reply October 27, 2009

    Finding emotional support is defenetly a challenge for men in our contemporary society. For centuries we have been reinforced and conditioned to play the strong, independent and self-sufficient game within and without ourselves. The truth is that we can hardly keep up with such fantasy. All human beings need supportive mentors and teachers that will guide them in the many challenges of life.

    In my role as a therapist I often find people holding on their tears out of fear of been “seen” , fear of showing their wounds. Men clients usually feel drawn to the magnetism of the archetype of the wise men that the therapist ( if he is skillfull) has embodied in a genuine way. Then they go around trying to impress him, looking for acceptance and approval. Finally the resistance dissolves and vulnerability flourishes. It is then that I let them know that vulnerability is true strenght and courage. Being humble and honest with ourselves allows us to find what we are trully looking for. If we can’t be honest inside, we’ll just keep on missing the point. I feel that mentoring is such an ancient tradition that we need to honor it in our present times. Great Job Jayson !! , blessings from Puerto Rico . . .


  • Bret Meier

    Reply Reply March 30, 2010

    Hello Jayson,

    Thank you for all the posts, I have read the popular ones and they are great. I will start off like this…

    It has been an “awakening” for me over this past year. For me, I was never a spiritual person; I don't believe in organized religion simply because religion preaches that they are right and others are wrong.

    As a boy I did everything in my power to “please” my father and have been trying to live up to his “expectations” for the past 29 years. I turned 30 on August 30th 2009. Since then I have been on a path to self discovery. I am finally separating myself from my father’s expectations and looking inward for the answers to my life.

    I owe this mainly to my courage to break away from ALL expectations and trust my own decisions. Doing this, it has brought me to a closer understanding of spirituality and what it means to me. Realizing the connection between my mind, my body, my source, and my world, I am now respecting the amazing power that “I” truly have. The challenge now is, how to master this power that I have??

    Being at the very beginning stage of self-awareness I also realizing just how much “practice” it takes to focus my mind on my true life’s purpose. This “awakening” that I am experiencing is a life long process, and I am excited to “wake up” and LIVE my life.

    I am grateful that I have started connecting with strong men that are in a state of awareness as I start this life journey. I am excited to surround myself with more of these types of men. I agree with you that knowledge is gained through experiences. I am eager to learn from these men, their experiences and knowledge, absorbing it in and turning to my Source, and then using this knowledge to expand my growth as a person.

    Thank you for your dedication to the development and self discovery of others. You are a true blessing.

    Bret Meier

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