Competing With Your Mentors

A great mentor will always cheer for your success.

“Engagement season” refers to the period of time each year when the most wedding proposals happen. In the United States, it runs from Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday of November) until Valentine’s Day. For many other locations, it starts just a few weeks later, going from around Christmas to Valentine’s Day.

The most popular days for engagements are currently Christmas day, Valentine’s day, New Year’s Eve, Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s day – in that order.

Just like most good publicists will start prepping and pitching their clients’ Christmas campaigns in early Summer, wedding pros’ prep for engagement/proposal season should ideally already be underway. However, if you, like almost every wedding business owner, have been juggling a zillion things, the next best time to start is now.

For the month of October, I’m going to be mostly discussing the things you can do get your business ready so that yours can be the company they most love once the ring is on their finger.

Michael Phelps and Joseph Schooling in 2008 (left) and in 2016 (right)

Michael Phelps and Joseph Schooling in 2008 (left) and in 2016 (right)


Three years ago, you may have seen the story of Joseph Schooling, a swimmer from Singapore who, as a kid, idolized Michael Phelps. Phelps served as an inspiration and unofficial mentor for him — pushing him to be better.

Then in the 2016 Olympics, Schooling swam against his mentor in the 100m butterfly race, taking home the Gold, with Phelps receiving the Silver.

I am a huge advocate of having mentors — I don't know where I would be in my own life if not for the men and women who have inspired me, held me accountable, and shared their hard-earned wisdom with me, both officially and unofficially.

That said, as you grow in wisdom, as your talents and skills improve, as you continue to educate yourself and produce the best work you can, you will come to a point where you will go up against your mentors for jobs, awards, or other opportunities.

There is absolutely nothing wrong or unfair about this.

Successfully competing with people you hold in high esteem has as much do with your mindset as it does with talent. Once you get to the level where you are competing against people who were mentors, you will have to give yourself permission to do so. If you don't, you will self-sabotage and you won't succeed.

Notice that I said give yourself permission, not get permission from your mentors. You don't need permission from them — your goals belong to you.

As you prepare for engagement season, think through what you want to accomplish next year but that you feel is too big a dream. Where are you holding back because you’ve bought into the idea that you always have to stay at least one tier below where a mentor is?

Maybe you aren’t charging what you should because it would be a higher rate than your mentor charges.

Maybe you’ve been hesitant to move into the luxury market because you don’t want to upset a mentor who works in that segment.

Maybe you’ve been turning down speaking invitations because you feel like a mentor owns a particular niche and although you are now an expert as well, you don’t want to “steal the spotlight.”

You can be respectful of and grateful to a mentor for all they’ve taught you and still go after what you want.

True leaders create more leaders and great mentors will always cheer for your success. If they don't, it's time to reevaluate their right to speak into your life.


A version of this post was originally published August 2016.