Get a Mentor
I know when I say Get a Mentor, many people have different reactions to what that would look like. It sounds so simple to say Get a Mentor, but why do so few people do it? As we go through life we all have life experiences that we can share with people. Most people want to share those experiences with others, but there is not only a shortage of people who make good mentors, there really is a shortage of people out there who have the ability and natural inclination to listen to others, seek advice and learn from other people’s mistakes. A favorite quote of mine is by Zig Ziglar who said “Some of us learn from other people’s mistakes and some of us have to be other people.” I love that quote. It is true that experience is learning from your mistakes but wisdom is learning from the mistakes of others. So, why do we have a problem with sitting down and listening to other people? Why do we think we have to be the person who knows it all? As we go through life, the situations we encounter will be unique to each of us, depending on what we’re doing and where we are in life, but that doesn’t mean that what someone else has done doesn’t matter and that we can’t learn from it. If you are going to be a Broker in a Real Estate Firm, you have to be a Real Estate Agent for 3 years first. You can’t just go take the Broker’s Exam. If you are going to be a Professional Engineer, you have to not only get your Engineering Degree and pass the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam, but you have to work under the direct supervision of a Professional Engineer for 5 years and then have recommendations from other Engineers who have observed your work and character before you will even be approved to take the Professional Engineering Exam. The same goes for Electricians, Plumbers and even Cosmetologists. So, why is it that most people go through life without seeking the wise counsel of others. Most people have never even considered that they need to get a mentor. And when they do decide to get a mentor, they usually don’t get someone that will help them. So, how does all this come together?
Get a Mentor – Picking the Right One
Well, first of all, you need to pick a mentor that will not just tell you what they think you want to hear. There are a lot of people out there who are “pleasers” and when you talk to them, they will not tell you the truth or if they do, they will be mealy-mouthed about it. They beat around it to keep from hurting people’s feelings. Also, you need to make sure the mentor you choose has the same value system you have. Of course a big thing is to get a mentor that has done or is doing something you want to do. I also recommend that you look at their personal life. For instance, if you are going to open a restaurant, and you are going to get a mentor, don’t pick someone who has a personal life in shambles, unless that is the way you want your life and marriage to end up. The Bible says Bad Company corrupts Good Character. If you value your marriage and you want your personal life to mesh with the career or personal development you are getting counsel on from a mentor, make SURE you know what their personal life is like, to the best of your ability because when you start taking counsel from people and getting advice, they can only teach you to do what they’ve done. You also want to be sure they have done what they are telling you. There is an old saying, “A man with a theory is NEVER at the mercy of a man with experience.”
Get a Mentor – Be Vulnerable and Teachable
When you do find a mentor and you are meeting with them, hopefully face to face, regularly, be it once a week, once a month or once a quarter, make sure you are vulnerable and open to their teaching. When I think of a Mentor, of course I think of my Engineering background, but I also think of Martial Arts. In Martial Arts, you can never advance beyond your sensei. In other words, if you are being trained by a 5th degree blackbelt, you can only progress to 4th degree unless your instructor advances to 6th degree. Otherwise, the student would have to seek out a new sensei in order to advance in rank if that is the goal. Going back to the restaurant example, if your goal is to have 3 restaurants, seek out someone who has at LEAST 4 restaurants or more. Don’t get advice from someone who only has 1 restaurant because they will likely help you put systems in place that will not be good for multiple locations. Always seek out those who are doing or have done at least what you wish to accomplish if not more. In time, you may be able to improve and put your own spin on what they are doing but in the meantime, be teachable to what they tell you to do or not to do. The trick, as I’ve said before, is to find something you want to do and find someone who is doing it, duplicate what they do and outwork them. Have Persistence!! This will get you started but then you can improve on it as your time and personality permits. Just be prepared when you meet with your mentor, take their advice and always remain teachable. Mentors are valuable so my advice is to get a mentor, just be careful who you choose and make sure your values align with theirs. That way, you can truly leave a legacy!