When Peers are better than Mentors

Peership is the rarest form of relationship, but also the most powerful.

When Peers are better than Mentors

When I lived in Sydney, Australia, I had a mentor who told me once that humans know how to relate “up” to our mentors and teachers, and we know how to relate “down” to people we consider as protégés, but we’re not good at relating across: few of us know how to be true peers to each other.

Comparison tempts us to situate ourselves on a vertical ladder of relationships, where we instinctively play the role of either teacher or student based on the unspoken dynamics embedded in interpersonal psychology.

Uncharted’s model espouses this andragogical framework: we’ve witnessed the transformative power of mentors to shape entrepreneurs and companies. But personally, I’ve found that it is not the sage mentors I am most drawn to, but rather the people who are still in the trenches searching and stumbling and finding and conquering and falling once more.

In a world awash in insight and best practice, maybe we’re starved for the kind of locked-elbows solidarity from peers who exhale empathetically and then say: “oh yeah...I’m going through that too, and I don't have any quick answers.”