If you look at the most successful individuals in the world, you will find that, in almost every case, they have been mentored. All of them acknowledge that they’ve had a mentor. They have had people that have climbed to the top of the mountain before them, so to speak, and have acted as guides. These people that have become successful in their own right acknowledge that they did not do it alone.
Sir Edmund Hillary was given credit for being the first person to climb Mount Everest. What many people don’t know is that Sir Edmund had a guide named Tenzing Norgay. Norgay led Sir Edmund Hillary up the mountain and took care of him. Norgay was his mentor and led Hillary in a true servant-leadership fashion.
Successful people hear the call to help other people, but they know they first have to be mentored themselves. They have to learn about their trade from an expert before they can begin to teach and help others.
You are never too old to have a mentor. No matter what stage you are in your life, you always want to have people around you that have climbed the next mountain, made it to where you want to go, have more knowledge, more wisdom, and outstanding results. You want to pick out those people and ask them for guidance. Ask them to serve as your mentor.
In addition to having mentors, truly prosperous people are mentors themselves. They give back. Their mindset is “other-focused.” The perfect position to be in is one where you are being mentored and are mentoring others at the same time. When you are mentoring others, it requires you to stay sharp and focused. It requires you to be a role model.
When it comes to mentoring, there are an additional 3 Ps: passion, pain, and priorities. These are the keys to good mentoring. Ask yourself, what is this person’s Passion? What do they want to accomplish? What is their why? Once you know that, you can help them pursue their passion and reach their goals.
The next P is Pain. The next thing a mentor needs to know about the person they’re mentoring is, what is their pain? What are their challenges? What are their short-comings? What are their concerns? Once you know those, you can help them work through those challenges and concerns. You can advise them on how to keep moving forward.
The final P is Priorities. What are their priorities? What do they want to put first? What do they need to put first? Knowing these will give structure to your guidance.
If you can understand their passion, pain, and priorities, you will be a very effective mentor. This in turn will help the individual achieve the goals they are pursuing, which is very rewarding and fulfilling for you as their mentor. You want to help the person you’re mentoring get to the top of their mountain.
When it comes to obtaining a mentor or becoming a mentor, there is no magic way to go about it. It is kind of like asking for referrals; it’s just asking in whatever way is most comfortable for you. When you see someone you want to emulate and that you feel you can learn from, you have to work up the courage to ask them if they’ve considered being a mentor.
One word of caution, if you are asking someone to serve as a mentor to you, be ready to play the game and commit. If the person accepts your offer and says, “Yes, I’ll mentor you, here are my expectations of you…” you have to be ready for those expectations. It’s a 2-way street. You can’t ask someone to be your mentor and then tell them it’s only on your terms. You can’t just be in it for yourself. You have to be ready to play the game.
Likewise, if you would like to mentor someone that you feel has a lot of potential, and you would like to help them reach that potential, there is nothing wrong with reaching out to that person. Ask them about their goals, their passions, their pain, and their priorities. Get to know them. See if there is a connection. Say that you are open to working with this person and that you are willing to be their mentor. There is no right way to ask the question. You just have to be courageous and do it.
Now, once someone agrees to be mentored or someone agrees to mentor somebody, it’s important to have a conversation about expectations. How is the mentored relationship going to work? Will it be formal or informal? How often will you meet, and where? Meetings might involve getting together once a month for lunch, or a drink, or coffee, meeting up at the office before work on Monday to talk about the upcoming week, or meeting on Friday afternoon to talk about the past week. It’s really up to the 2 of you. I would say that the best thing to do at your meetings is sharing victories and defeats with each other, but the first and most important discussion you need to have is about expectations. That way, both of you are on the same page in terms of what you expect from the other person, and what the other person expects from you.
So, how do you pick the right mentor? Is it someone that has climbed your Mount Everest? Is it someone that is winning the game at a certain level? What qualities should you look for in a mentor?
The main thing to look for is a person that you want to emulate in some aspect of your life, and you may have mentors in different areas. You may have a professional mentor at work. You may have a spiritual mentor because you want to emulate the way that person leads their spiritual life. You might have a mentor in the physical fitness realm, where your mentor makes sure you stay healthy and fit. You might have a mentor who you really admire in terms of how they handle their family and personal relationships. So you can have different mentors for different areas of your life. What you will find is that the best mentors do a good job in all of those areas. Somebody could be a great mentor in business but have challenges in their personal life, but chances are, those problems are going to carry over into their business, so that person may not be the best mentor.
Your mentor is your role model. When you find yourself in a difficult situation, you want to ask yourself what your mentor would do in that situation. If you really respect and admire your mentor, you will want to emulate them and their problem-solving skills.
In an earlier chapter, I stressed the importance of asking and answering these two questions, who are you becoming and who are you being? Are you becoming the person you want to be down the road? Are you working toward your goals? The decisions that you make today all focus on the question “Who are you being?” Are you being the person that makes decisions to help you become the person you want to be in the future? Both of these questions help you stay on track.