One of the great secrets to entrepreneurial success is what I like to call the slight edge -- making small, positive changes consistently on a daily basis for an extended period of time. Sometimes, you need some guidance to make those small changes add up to big success. Mentors are one of the most valuable assets for a successful entrepreneur.
If you’re teachable -- and I hope you are, because most success stories begin with a lesson learned -- you’ll benefit enormously from working with a mentor, even one you never meet. Let’s take a look at how to begin.
Start by writing down a list of the heroes or successful people in your field that you would like to model yourself after. Choose your heroes carefully though, because a person can be defined by the heroes he or she aspires to emulate. Too often, we make heroes out of those who can’t really help us, whose lives are fantasies. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are my heroes genuine role models?
- Can I become like them?
- Are these people doing the kinds of things that I aspire to do?
- Are they living the kinds of lives that I aspire to live?
- Can they really help me become who I want to become?
Next, do whatever it takes to learn as much as possible about your heroes. Read inspirational or motivational books they’ve written. Watch webinars and videos they’ve posted. Follow them on social media outlets and peruse their blogs.
Learning pure information is a good start, and while adding the street smarts you gain from applying that information can take you far, even that is not enough to go all the way toward the successful achievement of your goals. You need some way to process all that information, experience and integrate it. That way is through an apprenticeship.
Throughout human history -- long before books, universities or continuing education programs existed -- there’s been one tried and true path for learning a skill, craft, trade or profession: Study with a master. If you want to learn how to do something well, go find someone who has already mastered that skill.
- If you want to be a great public speaker, spend time with great speakers.
- If you want to be a success in business, then find a way to spend time in the company of successful businesspeople.
- If it’s important to you to be a terrific parent, the best thing you can do to further that aim is to spend time with men and women who have mastered parenting.
Do whatever you can to associate with a mentor because this can be the quickest and surest path to raising the quality of your life. Emulate your mentors, and let their understanding and mastery of their subject rub off on you. By working with someone who has already achieved mastery in your industry and modeling your behavior based on their experience, you’ll take your success to the next level.
It’s amazing the impact one person can have on your life. How they see you and what they see in you can influence how you see yourself. When I was younger, my mentor, Clyde Share, believed in me and taught me much of what I write and talk about today. Because I put forth the required effort on a daily basis, I started believing in myself.
By actively working to stay inspired by realistic heroes and working with masters who believe in you, the time and money you invest in your apprenticeship will begin to pay big dividends.