Each one of us needs someone we can look up to, learn from, and lean on for support. You’re never too successful, or too old, to benefit from a mentor. In fact, the moment you stop learning from others is the moment you stop growing.
You might be thinking, Okay, Ken, I’m all in. But how do I find a mentor? I’m glad you asked! Here are a few things to consider, along with steps to finding a mentor:
Are you ready to be mentored?
Before you ask someone to commit to mentoring you, you need to make sure you’re ready to be mentored. The most important sign you’re ready for a mentor is if you’re teachable. Listening to podcasts, reading constantly and learning from your friends and peers are all indicators that you’re ready for a mentor. If you’re not hungry for growth, then a mentor relationship is a complete waste of time.
Find the right person
As you start your search, look for someone who has disciplined daily habits and is committed to excellence. There are three specific qualities you should look for in a mentor.
Mentors are accomplished. Look for someone who’s climbed a mountain that you want to climb—someone who’s willing to share tactical advice on how to navigate your own path.
Mentors are also understanding. A good mentor will be empathetic and kind, because they’ve been down the same road you’re on. They know what it’s like to fail, get back up, and keep going.
Finally, mentors are caring. A true mentor is both kind and honest—someone who treats you with compassion, but is willing to share the hard truths you need to hear.
For most of us, asking someone to be your mentor is an opportunity to conquer fear and take a risk. You can’t predict how they’ll respond. But honestly, what’s the worst that could happen?
There’s no proven way to ask someone to mentor you. You just need to be honest, kind, and respectful. You might feel nervous they’ll say no. That’s a possibility. You might need to have a few conversations before you find the right person.
Be a good mentee
A mentor/mentee relationship is a two-way street. Your mentor isn’t going to step into your life with a magic wand, and make your wishes come true. The more effort you put into your time together, the more you’ll grow.
Also, show up on time, and wrap up when you need to. One of my favorite examples of a mentor/mentee relationship comes from Oprah Winfrey’s life. As a young news anchor, Oprah approached Maya Angelou, and asked for just five minutes of the great poet’s time. When they met, Oprah honored her original request and wrapped up the conversation after five minutes. Oprah’s integrity made a huge impression on Angelou, and sparked a lifelong friendship.
Your mentor has conquered mountains. Accept that they can teach you, and approach them with a posture of humility, integrity, and respect. In every area of life, meeting the right people and developing genuine relationships is the key to changing the trajectory of your future. If you want to make your dreams a reality, you need to learn from people who are already living the dream!