Sometimes we become so locked in our own world, so inwardly focused on thinking we can do it all ourselves and we know best, that we simply miss the opportunity to learn from others. You don’t have to go it alone. Many successful people attribute their success to having a mentor.
Following in the footsteps of a mentor, someone who has been there and done it, will make it easier to navigate pitfalls and unleash your potential.
A mentor can help you avoid trial and error
“It takes a wise man to learn from his mistakes, but an even wiser man to learn from others.”
When it comes to doing anything new, you have two choices: the first is to put in the hard yards, learning through trial and error as you reinvent the wheel; the second is to learn from those who have already navigated a pathway to success.
Something that I learned early in my career was that observing and emulating the habits, processes, and attitudes of successful people was a reliable way to fast track my own success. On reflection, this was one of my most important life lessons and it has stayed with me ever since.
When writing my first book, Built to Grow, I found the most experienced proven author who had travelled the pathway I was about to embark on. It saved me a fortune in money and perhaps even more important…time.
Now don’t get me wrong, having a mentor to guide you doesn’t mean there won’t be some trial and error involved. When a child learns to walk, they start by modelling the people around them, but they still fall over constantly to begin with. Why does a second sibling generally develop faster than the first? Because they have a role model to emulate and copy, they are ‘success modelling’ from an early age.
A mentor will help you become really curious
A great mentor will…
- Provide advice, guidance and feedback
- Share their experience and expertise
- Introduce you to new contacts and connections
- Act as a sounding board
- Offer encouragement and support
- Help you move out of your comfort zone
- Celebrate your successes
- Provide tough feedback
Their role as advisor and coach, champion and cheerleader, devil’s advocate and truth-sayer is all encompassing and most importantly, with no hidden agenda. Couple this with a foundation of mutual trust and respect, you’ll begin to operate in a state of curiosity, the wonderful child-like instinct that for most is conditioned out of us as we age. Your mentor will ask you questions which will make you think and not just do.
A mentor will help you expand your connections and build your network
Your mentor will know people you don’t. Fact. But here’s the key, those people may be influencers, thought leaders, or specialists in your chosen field. What better way to secure an introduction than from your mentor. You never know what doors may open.
Most people are willing to share their experiences – good and bad. Find a mentor and they’ll certainly tell you how it is with no hidden agenda or emotional attachment. They are willing you to succeed and will impart their knowledge, skills, contacts and connections to help you on your way.
And finally…who you spend time with is who you become
‘If you want to fly with the eagles don’t hang round with the turkeys’
If you want to be a high achiever, surround yourself with like-minded people with common values who will stretch and challenge you to grow.
And remember, you are not limited to only one mentor. Yes, you may have one overarching mentor guiding you in the medium to long term, but you may choose to have a number of ‘mini mentors’ or coaches to cover a particular knowledge or skills gaps. If finance is an area of weakness find a finance mentor, or marketing find a marketing mentor, or leadership, find someone who exemplars what being a good leader means to you.
A mind once stretched never returns to its original dimension.