Mentors Matter

In business, as in life in general, there are so many times where we can become stuck in place, simply spinning our wheels and making no progress forward. Not only does this stop growth cold, it leads directly to complacency — the enemy of any smart businessperson. One of the easiest and most effective ways to avoid this is with the help of mentors. In fact, I advocate that every person have at least three mentors.

A mentor is simply someone who helps us get unstuck, a non-judgmental person who listens with an open mind to help us steer clear of the mistakes they themselves made (and wish they’d had a mentor to help avoid). A mentor helps us accelerate our growth by showing us a clearer path with fewer distractions and obstacles. Think of it this way: When you climb a mountain, you’re thrilled to get to the top — but then quickly look to the next peak and resolve to reach that summit. A mentor helps you scale those upcoming peaks.

Entrepreneur Jim Rohn put it well: “Don’t take the casual approach to life. Casualness leads to casualties. Seek out the mentors that you need that will lead you to greatness in your field. If you’re not willing to learn from others, who are you willing to learn from?”

I personally have three mentors with whom I talk on a regular basis. I also count as mentors the countless others I have never met but whose wisdom made an impression on me via their books, podcasts or TED talks. Mentors are not only for the fortunate or the rich. Sometimes you may have to invest; often they are free. But when you ask someone to be your mentor, remember that it’s a two-way street of give and take. You must give them value as well.MORE FOR YOUThis App Is Empowering Relationships Just In Time For Valentine’s DayIs Luminar Stock A Good Play On The Next Generation Of Automobiles?DoorDash IPO: The Lessons For Entrepreneurs

As a business coach, one of the most common things I see is that many people simply lack the courage to ask for help. We have this odd belief that we should be able to do it all on our own, that asking for help is a sign of weakness. In fact, just the opposite is true. As motivational speaker Les Brown said, “Ask for help not because you’re weak, but because you want to remain strong.” Or, as the psychologist and well-known speaker Anne Wilson Schaef explained, “Asking for help does not mean that we are weak or incompetent. It usually indicates an advanced level of honesty and intelligence.”

So, how do you go about getting some mentors? Look to those you admire, who you trust and just pick up the phone and ask. Say, “I am looking for a mentor. Can I call you once a week or twice a month for five or 10 minutes to get advice? And what can I do for you in return?”

How many times have you found yourself practically babbling as you think out loud about a problem, only to discover that by the end of your monologue, you’ve already started to see a solution? That’s what talking with a mentor is like. With their neutral mindset, they give us new lenses and new perspectives. They help keep us on the right path at the right speed — not so hyped up that we’re careening a thousand miles an hour, nor so slow that we sit and do nothing.

Graduating college today looks much different than in times past. As we continue to grapple with Covid-19, new grads are entering the worst job market in more than a decade. A mentor will help you accelerate your job search and make fewer mistakes along the way. Pick those who are successful in your chosen field and let them help by offering advice, encouragement and, hopefully, introductions.

We insure everything from our health to our car to our house. Think of a mentor as people insurance — someone we can reach out to in real-time in the moment we need them. Someone to ask, “I am at a fork in the road and need some advice. Can you give me a minute?” A good mentor gives you the courage and confidence to do things maybe you wouldn’t do on your own. Many times, it just takes a word or a sentence to get you grounded, validated and back on the right path. Sometimes it’s so subtle you can’t even put your finger on it.

That may sound vague, but the benefits of mentorship are, in fact, thoroughly documented. The firm SAP HR Research examined 43 studies published over the last 30 years and found a positive correlation with the career outcomes of mentored vs. non-mentored employees. Those with mentors received higher compensation, a greater number of promotions, felt more satisfied and committed to their career and were more likely to believe they would advance. Furthermore, 76% of people view mentors as important to their overall success.

Remember, the level of consciousness that got you where you are today is not the level that will get you where you want to be. Think big — with mentors!

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