In Search of Mentors

12 Sep

We all know the value of a good mentor.  What we forget is that a mentoring relationship doesn’t just happen.  A lucky few might find one that just falls in their lap.  If not, you better go out and look for one!

How?  That’s a good question.  I remember my days advising students who would say I really don’t have a mentor.  I’d offer that they ought to get one, and a good way to start is by looking around at the people you know.  Who would you like to emulate?  Who do you admire?

Find someone who fits the profile and study what that person does.  Ask the question, “How did you get there?”  Listen closely to the answer.  Sometimes the most effective way to start a relationship is simply by saying, “I admire and respect you.  I’d like to learn from you”.  Most people who are told this are flattered.  Many have a desire to share their knowledge, and here is their opportunity.

Surround yourself with a handful of people you admire.  As your relationships develop, your mentors will likely offer you advice.  Take it!  Do something with it.  One rule I live by that never really fails me is that if enough people you trust are telling you that you ought to do something, you should do it.  Why is this hard?  I don’t know.  I don’t always follow this advice myself, but I keep the rule and do my best to remember it on a regular basis.

If you consider yourself to be “the best” at something and have a hard time finding someone to emulate, you’re not looking hard enough.  The minute you see things from that perspective, you lose the ability to improve.  You lose your edge.  Even the most successful people can point to someone they look up to and from whom to learn.

Find the person who meets your needs.  Don’t limit yourself to one; find at a few, particularly if you have a variety of goals.  Maybe you aim to get in shape, advance your career, raise a family, take on a new hobby, or improve your image.  Every one of these goals becomes more obtainable when you find people to emulate and from who to learn.

I think about the people I’ve mentored over the years and so many of them have gone on to have fabulous success in a number of areas of their life.  These people have reached success far beyond what I consider obtainable for myself.  That’s what a good mentor does. They teach the student how to grow until which point they begin to teach you.

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