Awesome entrepreneurs are backed by wise mentors. Every entrepreneur knows how important mentors are. Most entrepreneurs are willing to accept advice. The challenge is, how do you find a mentor?
Who are they? Where are they? And why aren’t they coming out to help you? Often, mentorship is one of those things that “just happens” without any clear direction. It’s difficult to define the path to discovering your mentor and learning from him or her.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to gain mentorship. Mentors don’t fall out of the sky. You must be proactive in seeking and finding a mentor. Here is how you enhance your entrepreneurial journey and gain mentorship.
1. Learn to listen.
Mentorship is essentially learning from someone else. If you want to learn from someone else, you have to listen to them. Who should you listen to? Listen to anyone. Most importantly, listen to people who are wise and thoughtful.
Most of us are more likely to talk than listen. If you are prone to talking, then it may take some effort to quiet down long enough to listen.
The more you listen, the more you’ll learn. It’s crucial that you take the posture of a learner. To be a learner, you must be a listener.
2. Commit to act.
Listening isn’t enough. You must also act on what you know. The best way to truly learn something is to put it into practice right away.
A good mentor will encourage you to do things that don’t feel comfortable, pushing you out of your comfort zone. That’s where you grow.
A commitment to being mentored is a commitment to acting on what you know.
3. You probably already know your mentor.
This may come as a surprise, but you probably already know your mentors. You may not have sat down with them in a one-on-one meeting, but it’s likely that you’ve heard of them, been introduced to them, or know someone who’s connected to them.
That’s how mentorship works. Rarely does one person mentor another sight unseen. Mentors work like friendships. You have friends in common; you rub shoulders at the same location; you’re in the same circles.
Recently, I put out an announcement on my blog to mentor others. I knew that the people whom I would be best suited to mentor would be long time readers of my blog. In a sense, they knew me, and I understood them, because they were part of my readership.
Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, understands this principle. Her advice is to find mentors through networking. But targeting strangers for mentorship opportunities is not effective. “Chasing or forcing that connection rarely works,” she explains.
Use your existing network, leverage your relationships, and find who can help you in your current situation. These will be the most natural relationships, and most likely to flourish as mentorship opportunities.
4. Learn from multiple mentors.
There’s a mistaken idea surrounding mentorship that you’ll somehow find one wise person to explain the secrets of life and the principles of business.
This is wrong.
You will discover that mentorship comes from multiple sources. You may have one mentor who gives you great marketing advice. Another mentor gives you insights into startup culture. Another mentor shares her wisdom on management principles.
The more mentors you have, the more you’ll learn and grow.
5. Seek mentorship among peers.
Mentors are not always older than you. Some of your best mentors may come from those who are in your peer group. You may even hire your mentors to work for you.
There is no hierarchy among mentorship. There is simply the give and take of information and advice. Such mentorship can take a variety of relationship forms, including among your friends and acquaintances.
6. Be willing to accept online mentoring.
Author Michael Hyatt makes a good point about mentoring when he writes, “When most people use the term mentor, they mean a one-on-one coaching relationship with someone older and more experienced.”
Instead, he explains, mentoring can take a variety of forms. Mentoring can be an informal relationship based on one-off encounters. It’s not a formal and systematic process.
Mentoring, like much of life and business, can happen online. Your best mentor may a blog writer. How do you learn from him? By reading his blog, by commenting, by following on social media, and by absorbing all you can.
If you can’t find a mentor who is willing to meet with you personally and individually, be content to accept mentorship from someone who is already teaching, coaching, sharing, and helping others, even if it’s on a blog or via webinars.
Personalities like Michael Hyatt, Tim Ferriss, and Ramit Sethi are, in effect, mentors for thousands of people. Although they don’t know their readers personally or coach them in private sessions, they nonetheless mentor them in very real and influential ways.
Be willing to accept mentorship in this way, even if it doesn’t completely fulfill your ideal of what a mentor is. Mentorship is broader than you thought, and more accessible than you expected.
It can seem challenging to find a mentor. But do you know what’s even more challenging? Trying to go it alone with absolutely no mentorship. Mentors serve to enhance your number one personal asset: your mind.
Mentors build you in all the ways that matter, pushing you further than you thought you could go, and opening up ideas that you never dreamed of.
Without the input of mentors, you may still grow, but you won’t grow as fast. Mentors are the growth-on-steroids route for entrepreneurial success.
Once you find your mentors, build an unbreakable relationship, and learn all you can.
How have you discovered mentors?