Choosing a mentor boils down to four things:
-What do you need to learn next?
-Who can you trust?
-What can you afford?
-What’s your comfort level?
What you may need to learn covers a few areas
You might need technical skills you currently lack. You might need spiritual or life coach-type guidance in order to become someone capable of having what it is you wish to have.
Do you know how to network, find resources, and use systems available to you in order to grow your dream? This includes people, software, hardware, and agencies of all sorts.
Is your strategy poor or non-existent? Are your thoughts a mess? Is it obvious that holes exist in your operation that you simply cannot fill – weaknesses you cannot overcome?
A good mentor will help lead you to the knowledge you seek
This type of mentor is a guide. They point things out and expose paths to take that will lead you to the resources you need.
Some of them will help you arrange your thoughts, develop your principles, open your eyes to your own heart and mind, open your eyes to reality, or teach you how to be a player on the next bigger level.
All mentors teach
So it depends on how much you can handle and how much accountability you can stand.
If you’re new, you’re looking for a patient person – one who gives you room to make mistakes without hard criticism. The “favorite teacher” mentor, I call them.
If you’ve been in this game for a bit, then you need someone whom has no time for playing around.
“Shit or get off the pot” is what you’re looking for and you know it.
You demand more of yourself and you need someone to hold your feet to the fire.
Who you can trust is a tricky one to tackle
There are two schools of thought on sharing your dream.
One is to tell everyone, so as to generate support and to build in a type of accountability on your part to deliver.
The second is to keep your plans to yourself and wait for that right person to appear.
Look for him or her but vet them, once you think you’ve found them. Find some way to vouch for their integrity before you share too much.
I’ve been burned mightily by allowing my enthusiasm and openness to blind me to darker realities
- I’ve let my desperation to succeed cloud my judgment in the past.
- I’ve burned like the Sun working on a hundred projects at once with others who were just as manically creative as me, playing the best Heavy Metal the world ever heard as the ship sank.
- I’ve been sucked into other peoples’ dreams and projects, killing mine off in the process.
- I’ve been promised help that never arrived.
- I’ve been lied to and flat out ripped off. Taken advantage of.
- I’ve spent thousands for advice I couldn’t possibly use at that point in my journey.
- I’ve lost thousands following the advice of mentors who sincerely had nothing but my best interests in mind. They just didn’t know how flawed their own advice was.
- I’ve let friendship muddy the line between teacher and student, leading to ineffective mentoring on their part and poor learning on mine.
And, although it hasn’t happened to me personally, I’ve had friends who’ve shared their vision and someone with resources has stolen it from them.
These bigger players knew a good thing when they saw it and knew the person who developed it was in no position to take it to the next level.
So, they took it, ran with it, and got rich with it, while my friends mourned the loss of what could have been.
That’s the dark side.
On the light side, you HAVE to trust someone!
Nobody wins in a vacuum. Everybody needs guidance.
Even leaders who appear to be all on their own got there by learning from someone before them.
Tony Robbins is one of the best at what he does and he still buys other people’s programs and confers with mentors of his own, in order to stay crisp and keep developing relevant information.
You’re going to have to trust someone but start safe
Just stick your toe in the water at first.
Read a lot of books. Sign up for free newsletters and programs and start learning what others offer. See which one of them resonates with you.
Even if you don’t go to that person for help, you’ll at least have a better idea of what style of mentoring appeals to you the most.
You’ll be able to fine tune your search for the right mentor, both online and in the physical world.
Who can you afford?
OK. First some framework. I’ve had more overall and steady learning from real world mentors. They’ve shaped much of what I am as a person and leader and continue to do so.
But my online mentors helped refine that structure, helped me do more with that real world knowledge base, and in many cases, accelerated my ability to get out of my own way.
To know when one is simply wrong is a powerful skill to develop.
“The fish does not see the water” is something I’ve come across in myself time and time again.
If you want to pay an online mentor but can’t, then I suggest you consume everything they offer that is free.
You’d be surprised what you can learn on your own and make real without ever buying the full course.
If you learn enough pieces, you’ll connect the dots on your own in some cases.
Also, by learning their free material, they are often giving you what you need to literally become just successful enough to afford their full attention. Just gotta be patient.
In the real world, you can be limited by scheduling, time availability, gas, lack of sleep, and more. These are the things that will get in your way when you’re struggling to grow.
One of the best ways around real world affordability is to barter your time and services to the mentor you wish to learn from.
Find ways of helping them that you can do from home or on your own schedule.
Make yourself into a physical and virtual assistant.
Anything you can do to help them makes you more valuable to them and they’ll be more open to teaching you.
If you have to go hungry or without sleep in order to be with a mentor at certain times, then buck up princess, and do it. Point blank.
If you’re dead in the water broke, or close to it, (been there myself many times) then you simply must do what it takes to keep yourself in that person’s presence if you truly wish to succeed.
Another angle is to have more than one mentor and see if you can link or barter their services or resources from one to the other.
You become the resource in this case.
You become the middle man. You have nothing of your own but you become the connection.
This can actually become a business of its own if you get good at it.
Look in your heart. Decide what’s most important to you and why. See what you’re really made of.
Then find the person who seems to resonate with your principles and fight to get into their world, be it physically or virtually.
Make noise. Be the squeaky wheel. Be their servant or apprentice.
Nothing is gained without risk
If you play it too safe, you’ll never move. You saw my list above. You’re gonna get burned.
Become OK with that impending fact arriving in your life and move forward.
Get off the beach!
Marines on the beach get shot to pieces.
If they move forward, they get shot to pieces.
But if they stay on the beach, they are guaranteed to die.
So they move forward, knowing more death awaits but also knowing they might make it and go on to glory.
They might live to fight another day
There. That’s the Marine metaphor I was saving. Hope it sticks in your mind.
But play it cool with your enthusiasm.
Be open but only just enough. Get to know your mentor. Make sure you picked well before betting the farm.
But if you think you’ve picked well, then bet that damn farm and dive in.
Don’t waste another second hemming and hawing. If you’re wrong, it will still one day lead to victory.