It’s been said that experience is the best teacher. But what does that mean? That statement intends to admit that hard lessons are often learned through making mistakes and bad decisions — sometimes at great cost! Perhaps, some lessons can only be learned through hard knocks. But does it always have to be that way? Having a mentor offers a much more enjoyable approach to learning.
Reasons to Seek the Help of a Mentor
1. Bypass painful mistakes. Why not bypass the mistakes and bad decisions that are inherent in launching a business on your own and learn through the experience of others? That’s precisely where a mentor is so valuable and desirable. Imagine where your life would be had you avoided the three biggest mistakes you’ve made?!
2. Gain knowledge and skills. A mentor may also serve as a tutor who helps you master the knowledge and skills you need in your field as an entrepreneur. A mentor is simply “a wise and trusted counselor or teacher.” Usually, a mentor is someone older than you are who has the experience, transparency, and care to offer wise advice and counsel.
3. Initiate key relationships. A mentor can also introduce you to relationships with key people. These are the kinds of people you wouldn’t meet without such an introduction. Often these relationships open doors for your business that would have otherwise remained closed, or even unknown to you. Sometimes, it is all about who you know.
4. Obtain wisdom beyond your years. Knowledge is not the same as wisdom. Nearly anyone can study a subject or skill and become thoroughly knowledgeable about it. Gaining wisdom is not a given. It may — may — come with age and experience, but there’s no guarantee that will happen.
Wisdom contains both a practical and moral side. Wisdom is the appropriate application of acquired knowledge. When you submit yourself to the guidance of a mentor, to some extent, you seek to become like them. If you listen and observe them well, they can impart their wisdom to you.
5. Acquire a legacy. When you give yourself to the instruction and guidance of a mentor, the mentor bequeaths on you a wealth of information, knowledge, experience, wisdom and relationships that you would otherwise not receive. You in some ways inherit the legacy of that individual. Such a legacy is priceless.
What’s Required of You, the Mentee?
Above are some of the reasons we all need mentors in our lives. But seeking out and learning from a mentor requires some things on our part:
Humility — We have to admit we don’t know it all. We must be willing to receive instruction from someone else, even when their advice might seem strange or counter-intuitive.
Patience — In our fast-paced (and selfish) culture we want everything now. We’re impatient by nature. But when working with a mentor, we must recognize that acquiring wisdom takes time. Your mentor is not your one-shot at a time passing manager.
Trust — Your mentor must be someone you (and others) can trust and respect.
Gratitude — A mentor rarely asks for payment (although the rise of “paid masterminds” and “coaches” makes mentor-like wisdom and accountability on demand). What all mentors have in common is that they have a mentor’s heart, and love to impart their wisdom to others. They find great joy and satisfaction in helping others grow. Our part is to express gratitude for their great service to us.
Diligence — If the mentor is motivated by the growth of their mentee, then our role is to diligently implement what they impart. Give your mentor the joy of seeing the fruit of their labor as you grow.
What to Look for in a Mentor
Your Mentor must be someone you respect. They must possess the character and experience you wish to emulate. They must be willing to share their life with you. They must have the time to spend with you. You must give them permission to call you out on you behaviors and attitudes, and they must be willing to do so.
Additionally, this person may not consider themselves a mentor. Perhaps they’ve never served as a mentor before. By your relationship with them, you can help them become successful as a mentor while gleaning their wisdom from them.
How to Establish a Mentor/ Mentee Relationship
Make a list of three possible mentors, and then approach one individual whom you’d like to mentor you. Tell them why you view them as a potential mentor and humbly ask them if they’d be willing to mentor you. Discuss what the relationship might look like and decide on specifics mutually. Agree on how often, when and where you’ll meet. If they decline, be respectful and move onto the next person on your list.
Together talk about what your sessions will look like. Sessions can include things like: receiving formal instruction ; asking them prepared and spontaneous questions; picking their brain; bringing real life situations, problems and issues to them; and asking them to tell their story.
Meeting with a mentor can launch you forward in your personal life and business like nothing else. If you don’t already have a mentor, consider finding and meeting with one. You’ll be glad you did! Finally, when the opportunity presents itself , be open to serving as a mentor for someone else, investing in their life and leaving a legacy for them.
Are you a Mentor?
If you think you’re experienced and willing to serve as a mentor to an inventor or entrepreneur, let us know in a comment!