Mentors can make life substantially easier. Mentors help guide you in the right direction from their past mistakes. I have two mentors for life advice and one for my field of work. I can’t tell you how many times these people saved my ass. For this blog I’ll be referring to one of my mentors with the contrast of a person who I thought was a “mentor”. Finding a mentor is harder than finding which restaurant your girlfriend wants to go to. Good mentors are a rare breed though. Here are an assortment of tips, rules, and traits that I have learned from my journey of finding a mentor.
The best mentors are accidents. The mentor I found for business was an old man that I stumbled upon in the gym at 6:30 in the morning. At the time I was traveling a fair distance to learn at this performance gym. He came strolling up while I was benching, looked at me and said “your bench sucks.” It was love at first sight. Now I have gone searching before, for someone that portrayed himself as a mentor, to only find out that this “mentor” fell short of his own mistakes repetitively. Searching won’t always fail you but in my experience when searching for a mentor, especially on social media, you are chasing the image that this person projects, not the actual person. Instead, surround yourself in an experienced environment. Someone will eventually stumble upon you to tell you how much your bench sucks but take an hour to help you fix it.
Analyzed experience. I am not a big believer in age justifying how mature you are. When people tell me “You don’t understand because of your age”; I become livid. Bringing up age in an argument or to prove a point is dismissive. Age has no reference to how intelligent you are or how much effort you put in. I have met people older than me that have the common sense of a drunk 16-year-old. But I have met a 14-year old that has taught me more about life than anyone older than me. Just because your “mentor” has a lot of experience doesn’t mean that this person has learned from it. Now the question rolling around in your head now is “has my mentor learned from his mistakes.” Not every mentor is perfect. But your mentor, or anyone, should stick to the rules that he or she claims to live by. This person should be moving forward with genuine actions.
Force Feeding. A mentor shouldn’t give lessons randomly. This “mentor” of mine would spout off these lessons that he “learned.” Most of them were usually slightly off the mark of my current situation and eventually became redundant. A mentor should wait until the situation calls for a piece of advice.
Get’s to the point. Being a mentor doesn’t just give someone a stage to preach their knowledge or what they have been through. When a mentor tells a story it needs to be short and sweet with the intention to show the mentee a point. If this person somehow always brings the scenario back to themselves with their past struggles, well then we have a self-indulgent asshole.
Put the time in. If you are lucky enough to find a good mentor make sure you are ready to give this person all of your efforts. Realize that some people never find a mentor so if he or she asks to show up at 6 am when you live an hour away, you are damn right you will be there at 5:55 waiting for them. Had to do it more than once for my business mentor but it paid off in the end.
Show Appreciation. My biggest mistake with my business mentor was not telling him how much I appreciated what he has done. After everything he did for me, I left without saying goodbye. Yes, I realize that made me look like a jerk. I decided to message him letting him know what his advice and most importantly his time meant to me. Next time I saw him, I brought a beer mug. One of his favorite past times is drinking a cold beer in his backyard with his bear-like dog.
Don’t settle on a person with mediocre advice who talks about themselves the whole time. Be patient but when you find the person willing to help, give them all you got because it will return tenfold.