Mentors: Your Guaranteed Way to Rapid Success

Mentors - Your Guaranteed Way to Succeed

Mentors, they can not only help you do better, but they can truly shape you, your career, your career and life choices – they can give you that special edge, or, in reality, help you grow it within yourself.

Often times, when we’re growing, we have so much input, so many stimuli coming at us from every direction. As we’re still young and learning, it’s hard to differentiate the good from the bad, or the wheat from the chaff as the old saying goes.

How can we make good choices? How can we know what’s the better or 2, 3 or 4 options? How can we build and hone our decision making processes and truly learn the valuable lessons of life, without having to make the same tired old mistakes over and over again?

The Answer is Mentors!

Why? Here’s the answer in a modest sized nutshell.

  • They Give you Honest Feedback

Do your friends always give you honest feedback; does your family? So often, out of a sense of care, over-consideration or not wanting to rock the apple cart, our friends and family are the completely wrong people to be giving us feedback. Let’s be honest, they’re biased and look at us with a subjective view. Now this isn’t always the case, but a lot of the time, it’s hard for them to really give us a kick in the pants when we need it.

A mentor on the other hand, that’s what they’re there for. They’re there to tell it like it is; to let us know when we’ve done wrong; to tell us that an idea’s time has passed or that yes, that really is a winner (with a little refinement). One of the best things that they do is tell it to us straight.

One of my main mentors, when I was really going off on a tangent said, “honestly, I think there’s people much better suited to that than either you or I”. Now I’ll skip over the subject of the response. But he told it to me like he saw it, through his years of wisdom. Others might have humoured me, priding my ego, he didn’t. He felt I was wrong and told me so, but constructively.

  • They Have Years of Experience and Life Lessons

This is another great quality of mentors. They’ve been down some dark and dusty roads; they’ve had their fair share of knocks and setbacks and rejections; they’ve had to learn how to cope with it and come back from it. Us, we’re still learning and building these skills and this knowledge. They’ve, likely, got years of life lessons (and their own mentors). As Tony Robbins said: find people who’ve already done what you want to do, learn from them, speed up time.

Seriously, this is priceless advice. The great Isaac Newton expressed a similar sentiment when he said: If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants. Consider this point for a moment; why reinvent the wheel, expending all the energy, time, money and effort that’s required, when someone else’s already done that. Yes, there is value in learning some things for ourselves as it can really drive the information home. But to re-learn and re-create everything is just a waste. Consider the possibility of learning even more by taking what they’ve done and building on it. In that way, you honour them and their efforts by using them as the basis of your own.

They Challenge You to Think – Critically

When we have our own ideas, we can tend to fall in love with them. Whether they came to us in a moment of either brilliance or clarity; whether we are collaborating with friends or someone gave us the idea, because they felt that we have the skills that they don’t ideas and inspiration come to us in many forms.

But just because we have them, doesn’t make them right; it doesn’t guarantee that they’re going to work or that anyone will spend their hard earned money on them. This is another great facet of mentors – they challenge us to think. Here’s a selection of questions that they could ask you:

  • What is your plan to monetize this idea?
  • Who is your target market?
  • What are the capital requirements to get your first sale?
  • Is this in line with your passion, your key skills, your life goals?
  • Has anyone attempted this before?
  • What’s the attrition rate of businesses in that sector?
  • What are the barriers to entry (and exit)
  • What’s the time committment required?
  • What groups and organisations exist to support and assist you?
  • Are there any government regulations that make it prohibitive or illegal?

Now don’t take these points as negatives or wanting to discourage you. They’re but a sample of questions that a good mentor may ask from time to time. Mentors need you to think all about your ideas to ensure that you have done just that. They don’t let you go blindly forward on a wing and a prayer.

They Don’t Let You Slack Off

Have you ever watched Dragons Den on the BBC? If not, you must check it out; even one episode. When a person’s come in to the den and convinced one or more of the dragons to lend them start up capital, part of the arrangement is that the dragons, naturally, check in periodically thereafter to see how the people are going, how their capital is being put to use, how the business is performing.

Well, you may not have such celubrious mentors as these, putting up tens to hundreds of thousands of pounds, dollars, euros or yen for your venture, but they still perform this vital task. There are a lot of us out there who have great inspiration, get lost in a flurry of initial activity and then the motivation, the inspiration, the desire just dissipates. If you’re a multi-potentialite, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

Mentors keep you honest, they hold you to account, they help you stop this from happening. They ask you the tough questions, they come along regularly to “just see how you’re getting along”. You know that at any time they may ask you how you’ve been going and what you’ve achieved, and you have to have something to say. So, on those days when you’re “just not in the zone”, you have a good reason to get your ass right back there.

They Bring Out the Best in You

Whether it’s because you’re suffering from a bout of doubt, aren’t well, or things are going as you’d anticipated. Or whether you’re going well and growing, things are racing along but can still get better, mentors help bring out the best in you. Whether it’s seeing them and wanting to emulate their success; whether it’s a word or phrase or two of encouragement from them; whether it’s someone else talking highly of them – mentors can help bring out our best.

They’re a milestone of success and achievement to shoot for and reach. They’re the pat on the back when we’ve done well, encouraging us to do more and strive further. They’re the consoling support when we’ve failed, that helps us identify why, get ourselves together and go again. But they’re so much more than that. Whatever it is, of these points and more, they help us become so much more than we’ve ever achieved. They help us find out that it’s possible to become so much. Mentors are invaluable.

Where to find mentors

Now mentors can come in many different forms. You don’t have to know them personally or directly. They may be a person you work with or work for; they may be people who’s work you read or listen to on a regular basis; they may be someone you’ve met out and about or just someone that has inspired you by their actions.

Mentors are so abundant that they’re not hard to find. Not sure where to find one? Try this thought out: What is it that I really want to do, be, be remembered for, achieve, avoid becoming? And who’s already done it so well? As Tony Robbins also says, success leaves marks behind. So when you’ve identified what you want to do, it won’t take you long, now that you’re focusing on it, to find the marks of it being done that lead you to those that have.

Then, when you’ve found them, stalk them! Think that I’m kidding? Nope! Now I don’t mean stalking in any kind of strange way, I mean follow them in their writing (whether books, ebooks, blog posts or twitter). If they produce podcasts or screencasts, listen to them; if they deliver seminars, on the topic that you’re keen on, consider attending. Then there’s the best one – meet them. Getting to know them personally is the single most valuable form mentors come in.

Think it’s not possible – it just might be. If you remember from one of my earlier posts, I wrote to my main mentor when I was just 18. He’d never heard of me, didn’t know who I was and arguably had no incentive to write back. Yet he did and he’s been an indelible impression on my life ever since. So why not write to them. Alternatively, research them, find them on LinkedIn and make a connection that way. If you live in the same city, there may be a networking group that they’re in that you can join and slowly, but surely, find the opportunity to strike up a conversation

In Summary

So ok, saying that mentors are a guaranteed way to success is a bit of a lie, but it’s a damn sight faster than trying to do it on your own. Believe me, I’ve tried that. I’m very appreciative of the mentors that I have in my life. They teach me so much.

So here’s a few final questions for you. Why would a mentor benefit your life? How could they challenge you to do better, think more analytically or strategically? How could they encourage you to get over your fears and anxieties?

image copyright (c) mobilene

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