Mentors can change your life.
That sounds dramatic, but it’s true.
No one, and I mean no one, gets anywhere in life without the help and guidance of at least one person or a group of people.
From the outside, success looks effortless and quick.
In reality, it’s often years of hard work, of set-backs and revisions, of self-doubt and fresh starts.
Eventually, you will have a break-through, receive a bit of a leg-up, and start to achieve your goals.
You need many skills to be successful: resilience, smarts, hard work.
But you will also need a mentor and not just any old mentor.
You will need the right mentor for you.
But how do you choose the right one?
Here are some things to look for:
It’s so important for you to admire the mentor you choose.
Don’t just go for the most successful person in the room.
Ask yourself whether you like the way that person does business.
Are they trustworthy?
And do you look up to them?
There are some successful people who won’t be great mentors for you because, while you acknowledge their success, you don’t admire them.
And admiration is crucial because there are times your mentor is going to give you advice that you don’t want to hear, but you’ll listen if it’s coming from someone you respect and admire.
Some people may say that it doesn’t matter if your mentor doesn’t work in the exact same field, and that it’s the nature of their advice that matters.
While this is true, the closer a mentor is to your industry or business, the more relevant their advice will be.
Furthermore, if a mentor has become successful in your field then they can spare you the mistakes they made the first time around.
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Which is very handy!
We’ve all met people who are very smart, very good at what they do, but cannot always communicate that well to others.
Or perhaps they lack emotional insight into their decisions and actions.
These people do not make the best mentors.
Mentors need to be like therapists: excellent listeners and very perceptive and insightful.
You need a high emotional IQ to mentor.
Look for people who are self-possessed without being arrogant.
They know and understand themselves, including their strengths and weaknesses, and this allows them to know and understand others.
Everyone is busy these days, but a good mentor is someone who finds time to help others they see talent in.
They are generous with their accumulated knowledge and wisdom and they enjoy sharing it with people who want to learn and grow.
They remember someone who helped them along the way, and they’re keen to pass it on.
They’re not threatened by new talent, they’re excited by it.
Which brings me to my final point.
The best mentors mentor because it comes naturally to them.
They don’t do it to look impressive or advance up the career ladder.
They do it because they’re natural born leaders, they enjoy relating to people, and they genuinely enjoy mentoring.
Mentoring should never feel like a chore, and finding the right mentor is mostly about finding the one who is willing and enthusiastic enough to throw their hat in the ring with you.
And that is the most important thing to remember.
A good mentor is not that hard to find because they want to be found.
Sometimes they even find you.