A simple answer to success: Successful people use mentors!
Mentors raise the tide for all boats, big and small.
What is a mentor? While there are many definitions of what exactly a mentor is, the general concept of a mentor is someone who shares their knowledge and experience with another in an effort to assist and expedite growth and development. Sometimes mentors are specifically sought for a purpose - such as mentoring a new business, a new employee, or a new board member. At other times mentors appear in the form of colleagues or associates who step into the role more informally based on their general experience.
What’s fascinating is that when you take a hard look at successful people, especially those who pursue personal and professional development, you consistently find they have mentors. Some people find an experienced mentor that has walked the path they themselves want to emulate. Others have a few mentors that specialize in certain areas of development. For example an investment mentor, a relationship mentor, a spiritual mentor, etc. Yet others participate in an organized forum of mentorship where the work is accomplished collectively - such as a Mastermind group.
The power of mentorship is undeniable. I would challenge you to find a single successful person who has not had one form of mentorship or another. Receiving guidance by someone who has been successful - as well as made mistakes - is invaluable to someone who is walking a similar path. That’s not to say that all of the hurdles and pitfalls will be avoided with the assistance of a mentor. Rather, an effective mentor demonstrates choices that lead to success, and ways to recover and rebound when missteps occur. They also tend to offer trusted, confidential support and encouragement with direct feedback that a mentee would find difficult to obtain from (arguably biased) friends and family.
On a personal note, I can attest to the fact that some of the biggest steps of growth and development I’ve had in my life and career have been when I’ve had mentors who took time to provide their insight and guidance. Likewise, periods in which my growth has plateaued or stagnated have been in the absence of good mentors.
While some people are blessed with mentors who step into their lives at just the right time and offer guidance as a form of altruism, others look to professional mentors - or mentoring groups - for what they need. My impression is that either may work as long as there is trust and a combination of valuable knowledge and experience to be shared.
What’s the takeaway? If you’re at a point in your life that you’re looking to make significant personal and professional strides - look for a mentor or mentoring group. Search out someone who has developed what it is you want to develop, has earned what you want to earn, or who has accomplished what you want to accomplish. A mentor (or group) will help keep you focused on your goals, will give you honest feedback, and will challenge you to consider opportunities or choices you otherwise wouldn’t even consider.
With a new year quickly approaching, there’s no better time for personal and professional development. Want to find a mentor, but don’t know where to begin? Let’s start the conversation today!