Mentors are like wilderness guides that help you navigate through rugged terrain, showing you the best route to reach your destination and helping you avoid pitfalls that jeopardize your journey.
“I have a lot of mentors. They’ve made a huge impact on my education and career. They’ve played a huge role in taking me from where I began, and helping me amplify my results. It’s almost like having mentors supercharged me to get where I was going FASTER, and also course-correcting me if I made wrong decisions along the way.” – Ramit Sethi
Have you ever seen the movie 127 Hours? It’s a true story about a guy who goes hiking and climbing by himself — instead of going with someone (see movie clip below) — and it illustrates the importance of having a mentor: Mentors help us guide us on our journey, avoid pitfalls, and can help us get unstuck if we’re faced with a challenge.
I’ll never forget going backpacking for the first time in southern Colorado. I went with four other guys, two of which were wilderness experts (at least, they were in my eyes). These guys knew where to hike, what to avoid, how to store our food at night so bears didn’t approach us, and many other survival essentials. Having them on the trip was invaluable.
Mentors are invaluable guides for your entrepreneurial journey, and finding 1-2 of them can be a total game changer in your business and life.
I have three people in my life whom I consider to be my business mentors — my “wilderness guides” in business. Since we share similar values and worldviews, I’m able to also discuss faith, family, and personal matters with them as well. All three of them have been invaluable in my personal and professional growth.
Whether it’s discussing hiring employees and growing a startup, or faith and family, mentors are essential to helping you grow in wisdom, achieving your goals, and avoiding pitfalls. As it says in Proverbs 13:20, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”
Mentors Come In All Different Shapes and Sizes
A lot of us have this idea that a mentor is someone we meet with on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. And while it can certainly be that, this understanding shouldn’t limit our expectation when looking for a mentor.
According to Merriam-Webster, a mentor is “a trusted counselor or guide.” A trusted counselor and guide can you help in many different ways.
When I was a senior in college, I read a book that changed my life. It was called The Education of Millionaires by Michael Ellsberg, and the author guided me through the challenging period of trying to find a job after college graduation. He was my mentor for that two months that I read the book.
That book helped me understand marketing, sales, the entrepreneurial mindset, and the importance of relationships — all of which helped me land a job upon graduating college and grow my digital marketing agency, because it equipped me with the mindset and skills needed to market myself and demonstrate the value I was going to bring.
A few different ways you can learn from mentors:
- Someone you meet with once a month.
- Someone you meet with once a quarter.
- Someone you meet with 1-2x a year.
- Online Course.
The Quarterly Check-In: How to Find A Mentor and
Meet Regularly with Successful People
In your pursuit to find a mentor, you may discover something: Successful people are really busy. Because of this, you most likely won’t be able to meet with them every week or every other week. Don’t let this discourage you; this is normal, and you can still meet regularly with these successful people with a special strategy.
I call this strategy the “Quarterly Check-In.” Here’s how it works: every three months, reach out to your mentor by phone, text message, or email and ask if you can grab a quick phone call. (If they can meet you for lunch, coffee, or dinner, that’s even better!)
The reason the Quarterly Check-In works well is because it allows you to meet consistently with (and learn from) successful people without requesting too much of their time. Meeting with a successful person you look up to four times a year is better than meeting with that person zero times a year.
Two Questions to Ask Your Mentor Every Time You Talk
Every time I meet with one of my mentors, I tried to prepare two questions and a success story for our discussion. Coming prepared to the conversation helps me be intentional, respect my mentor’s time, and get the most of our discussion.
- How are you and your family doing? You can add value to your mentor by asking good questions and being a good listener. A lot of mentors – if not all of them – have many people in their life asking for their time, attention, and money. If you can be someone in their life that listens genuinely, that is valuable.
- Have you ever faced ______________ (a challenge you’re experiencing right now)? If so, how did you overcome and solve this? Every time you talk with your mentor, you should have at least one main question/topic you want to ask them about and get their feedback on. (If you have more, great! But be sure to prioritize at least one, just in case your mentor doesn’t have enough time to discuss all your questions.)
Also, be sure to share a success from your life/business that they (the mentor) helped you achieve. If there is something specific your mentor has helped you achieve — through their wisdom, advice, and/or connection they made for you — share that with them. Success stories are encouraging, and it shows your mentor that you take their advice seriously enough to act on it.
To recap, here are the key takeaways and a few actions steps to remember:
- Mentors are like wilderness guides that help you navigate life, show you the best routes, and avoid pitfalls.
- Mentors come in all different shapes and sizes: don’t be discouraged if you can’t find someone to meet with you every week.
- The Quarterly Check-In can be a great way to meet regularly with successful people you look up to.
- Prepare ahead of time, so that you can make the most of your time with your mentor.
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