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How Do You Break Up With a Business Mentor?

Any chance you’ve ever “broken up with a business mentor”? Or perhaps someone you know has? How do you break up with your business mentor when things begin to go sour? Here’s my advice for how to go about it.

First, and in short – you don’t. It’s critical that you never burn bridges. Every interaction you have in life is your opportunity to elevate your brand. Most ambitious career-seekers have a plethora of mentors in a vast variety of industries. One mentor may be invaluable because he/she is focused on improving your social competencies, while another is instrumental in helping market your abilities as he/she targets enhancing and showcasing your transferable skills. It’s imperative to keep those tenured doors open, as many people take u-turns in life while carrying their career compasses.

It’s a tough economy, and you don’t necessarily know where you will be in 2-3 years, or if you could use their direction potentially in the future. Mentors are those wise and experienced teachers who counsel you and help transform you professionally, reshaping your career potential. They help you build confidence and serve as strong references. However, it’s important to choose them wisely, initially. Although the level of formality and consistency may fluctuate with each mentor, they each help instill different growth traits.

That having been said, by being extremely thankful or announcing a new exciting chapter in your professional and/or career development, you can essentially demonstrate your gratitude before reducing the frequency of your communications, that is, if you feel it’s time to “break up”. This “thank you letter” exemplifies your appreciation while leaving the bridge intact. Call it a goodbye letter if you will, as most business mentor relationships are also very personal in nature — an ongoing hybrid of negotiation and friendship. Not only is it important to keep a positive outlook on the relationship respective to its sensitive history, but to communicate honestly about how valuable he/she has been in this particular time in your life.

As you grow, you move on. In essence, many mentors are life coaches, not mentors, due to all the delicate intricacies that impact our daily lives, personally and politically. However, times change, people progress, and we must champion that change in such partnerships.

Thus, instead of ending a history of positive efforts, it can be harnessed and re-characterized as a catalyst that propelled you to the next phase of your career trajectory— celebratory in nature. For that you are thankful, for their inspiration, and for what it helped manifest in your future: positive change and growth.

  • By Eric on 7.31.2014 at 12:20 pm

    Wise words from Hassan Akmal, everybody. Thanks for the mentoring!

  • By Hassan Akmal on 7.31.2014 at 12:30 pm

    My pleasure Eric. Yesterday, I had one of my mentors call into the retreat to share his lessons learned after serving as a high level dean and in various consulting and global positions. Some takeaways were:

    1) Kindness, compassion and hard work are global traits and transferable beyond international borders;

    2) Make the choice to succeed;

    3) Elevate your brand: Every interaction you have is your opportunity to elevate your brand;

    4) Development;

    5) Work from the Outside/In; do your best to help others around you as much as possible.

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