You should have a mentor. Or a few of them. All the successful people that I have read about, met, or worked with all had a mentor at least one point in their life. Most of them have had multiple. If you want to get ahead further and faster, learn from someone who has already done 80% of what you’re trying to accomplish and to not repeat their mistakes. In addition to soaking up all the good knowledge they will give you, they also create an open dialogue, without judgement, so that you can ask all of those questions you never want to ask peers or a boss.
In order to find a mentor, you need to have a few conditions met. In my experience, it’s been a combination of the following: Being in the right place. Being there at the right time. And being there with the right heart. (80% of life is showing up). What do I mean by this? I mean you have to have a need for mentorship. You have to meet someone who has the requisite experience to mentor you. There has to be a mutual timing for this need. And, most impotantly to me, you’ve got to have the right heart. Mentorship isn’t a one-sided affair. You must give MORE to your mentor than they give to you or it wont work. I’ve detailed some additional tips below on how to make the most of your “partnership.”
Mentorship isn’t solely based in the verbal communicaiton either. Notice how they dress, speak, LISTEN. What they eat, what their routines are, what books they read, and anything that is the foundation of their character. It seems that the more and more I read about the titans of business, similar patterns emerge. Mentors provide accountability. They should help you set goals, revisit those goals in some type of time-bound manner, push and stretch your goals and help to make you be your best.
Now onto “how do I choose a mentor?” For me, I haven’t actually chosen a mentor. Not that I guess it can’t be done, it just hasn’t happened for me. My first mentor (outside of family members), Todd Ehrlich, (a former Navy SEAL) came to me when I was about one hair-width from getting fired from my first “real job” (I’d really only worked in the entertainment industry) at Kill Cliff. It was due to a terrible miscommunication (totally my fault). He sat me down and told me that either I was getting fired or he would start to mentor me (on Sunday’s mind you) for an hour each week. I was a stupid 22 year old fresh outta college that knew everything. Turned out I honestly didn’t know shit about shit! During those times I learned super basic skills like how to take notes, how to think on my own, problem solve, communicate, etc. Basically, how to work. I’d never had someone take the time he did to teach and coach me on the professional work place and it turned out to be one of the most helpful experiences of my life. That mentorship, in a very loose form, lasted for nearly three years.
Another Mentor of mine, Steve Cesari, came to me through Benjie, my brother, who was attending a Friday Monring men’s group (you should also have one of these if possible). Steve, a CEO, public speaker, consultant, executive coach, etc., met Benjie one morning and started listening. They spoke for a good bit, and I believe that he saw there was potential to help someone that was willing to be helped. After our first meeting, Steve and I began to talk about issues more specifically related to me, and he gave me a roadmap to success in life. Once we filled that out, set goals, and developed bulletproof strategies on them, he simply held me accountable. Im still following those goals.
I’ve had a couple of other mentors/coaches through my life, but I have never once gone out and found a mentor. In fact, they have all kind of come to me. It’s funny, because now that I have mentored 3-4 different people in my life, the same thing has happened. Not a single one of them reached out to me and said “Hey Jamey, will you please mentor me.” It’s a much more organic experience which plays back to the “right place, right time, right heart” thing I was discussing earlier.
People generally want to help people that want to help themselves. A lot of what’s in people’s hearts and minds can be distilled from the questions they ask. If I see someone who is working hard, having issues, but asking the right questions and has a humble heart, I am going to do ANYTHING I can to help that person. Remember though, successful people are REALLY busy, and you are going to have to be prepared, work your tail off, be on time, and do everything that is assigned in a timely manner. Most people fail at one of these things and that’s where the relationship breaks down.
What are some ways to make the best of a mentorship?
Don’t force it!
In order to find a mutually beneficial mentorship, you’ve got to come from a place of passion and geniulenly wanting to better yourself. There are a ton of paid mentorships out there that are WORTHLESS. There is no shortcut for success. It will take time, energy and hard work. Make sure that you are inspired by something youve heard or read from them. Once you are drinking the Kool Aide, your relationship will have much more success. Shared values and common interests make working together much easier.
When reaching out to someone very busy, be persistent and explicit in what you want. Do your homework and don’t ask blanket questions. “Hey Mr. X, I noticed you wrote a book on marketing, and I am looking to get better at business growth. I wanted to see if you were interested in mentoring me.” NO! How would you respond to that?
Maybe something like “Hey Mr X, I loved your speech I attended where you discussed how to overcome ABC. I tried to take your advice and apply it to my issue of ABC, but am having trouble. A couple of solutions I have thought up are XYZ, ABC, and EFG. Which route do you think I should take?” Do you see the difference? Be sure to make your ask very clear.
Be clear on your value
As mentioned above, mentorship is a two-way street. Everything in life is sales and it’s up to you to sell yourself on the value your provide. Is it a business relatioship they may want? Could you use the services they provide? Can you introduce them to a younger cohort of portential employees?
Find the right mentor for the right subject.
You wouldn’t ask your car repair shop to come to your house to fix your leaky toilet, would you? Obviously not. So you also shouldn’t ask someone who speicalizes in web development (even if they are incredibly successful in their field), if you are trying to grow your insurance sales business. Yes, there is a good deal of crossover in what makes you sueccesful in any field, but you want to have someone with industry specific knowledge to make the best of it. This also leads me to another point.
Have multiple mentors.
If possible, have multiple mentors. These don’t have to all be formal, sit down, once-per-week, fully involved relationships. They can be a health/fitness mentor that you meet at the gym. I have several mentors in BJJ, and we have our two hour (meetings/ass whippings) sessions several times per week on the mat! Whatever the mentor is for, make sure you are getting as much help and skipping as many mistakes as possible. You can also introduce different mentors each other as a way to add the value mentioned above.
Interested in getting a mentor? Shoot me an email or reach out via the SM networks, and I will do my best to try and introduce you to someone that makes sense for your needs! If nothing else, you can make a meaningful relationship with someone new!