Finding Mentors To Help You Grow
“Where there is no counsel, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”
-Proverbs 11:14 (KJV)
Everyone needs someone they can reach out to for advice; someone they can learn from. Call them a coach, a mentor, or an adviser. When I first found out the majority of successful people intentionally develop relationships with a coach or mentor, I was surprised. I thought leaders had it all together. But then I realized that even the world’s best basketball players have coaches, even though the player can play the game far better than the coach. That coach is still there to challenge, encourage, develop, and push them further than they would be able to go on their own motivation.
The same is true for all of us. We have certain weaknesses and habits we tend to fall back into unless we have someone to remind and coach us. Those areas need to be dealt with if we want to grow then we need to figure out How to Choose a Mentor. If we don’t have the courage to talk to others about areas where we are weak or need help, we will never get an opportunity to learn and grow.
Moses was strong and led the entire nation of Israel, yet he was also the meekest person on earth (Num. 12:3). He took advice from Jethro, an outsider to the Israelites. A strong person is not one who hides all his weaknesses and pretends they don’t exist. Pride will hide and pretend. Real strength is when we approach weaknesses with humility, yet have the courage to confidently interact with others especially when you learn How to Choose a Mentor.
Even in our strong areas, there are opportunities to get better. One who is naturally talented at running will never win any significant races unless they keep practicing to refine what they are good at. There are a lot of preachers who are naturally gifted at preaching. Yet, many could go so much further if they would work on becoming better speakers and ministers. Advisers can help point out the weak spots, encourage us, and instill discipline in areas where we are already good.
How do we practically find an advisor? Start by identifying a number of people who are better than you and start making a list. Many will be happy to help you, some will decline. They may be too busy, they may not be interested in coaching, or they may hit our worst fear by simply sizing us up and deciding they are not interested in us. Don’t get stuck trying to analyze why or fall in the pit of feeling rejected. Keep going down your list, and you will get to a yes if you refuse to let rejection stop you.
Before I started writing books, here is what I did. I went online and researched articles about the writing process, the publishing process, and the sales process. Then I made a list of people who had written several books. These were people that either knew me or maybe we had an acquaintance in common. I was looking for people who were a few levels ahead of me, not necessarily New York Times bestsellers. Then I would call or email these people and either ask questions over phone or email, or I would ask if we could meet for about 30 minutes to discuss writing.
Now, when you first meet someone, don’t start by asking them to commit a lot of time and hope they will take responsibility for your development. They won’t. Be respectful of a successful person’s time. You need to come up with two or three questions or specific areas where you need advice. Tell them what you want help with and ask if you can have 10 minutes of their time. If your ask is small, most people will be very willing to help. When you meet, make sure it’s for the length of time you said it would be. Offer to meet at a place convenient to them. If you will go out of your way to make it easy for them, they will be more willing to help. Many will point you in the right direction and offer advice on books or resources you can use to grow. It’s up to you to get those resources and start growing. Report back to them and appreciate their input on how to choose a mentor. If they see that you are willing to make an effort and are taking their advice and growing, they might be willing to offer more. Next time, ask for a cup of coffee or lunch with them. You may need to take them to a nicer place than you are used to yourself. Again, make it convenient and comfortable for them. This time, you might be able to spend 30 minutes and have a meaningful conversation in an area they are an expert in where you know you need to grow.
If you’ll make a habit of asking people who are more advanced than you in various areas and look to implement the advice they give you, it won’t be long before you notice that your own thinking patterns have changed and you are growing.
If you show appreciation, treat them with respect, and continually look for something you can also do for them, you may find that you have a long-term relationship. And remember, people that have gone further often have more advanced tastes. Get to know their tastes. If you buy them something but from a league higher than yours. If you can’t increase the budget for an item, then instead of getting them a shirt you would get yourself, use the same money, and buy them some really nice coffee or a high-quality candle.
START NOW: Think through people you know who are doing better than you in various areas where you want to grow. Make a list of five to eight people who you would like to get to know better than you can contact and start asking some questions.
This article is an excerpt from A Fork in the Road: Choose Poverty or Prosperity. It is a practical guide for winning at life and can be ordered from Amazon.com