Who Mentors You Determines Who You Become
I’ve got some good news and bad news for you about mentoring.
The bad news is that everything you think you know about mentoring is probably wrong, including your idea of what a mentor actually is, and how to go about finding one.
The good news is that I had the privilege of being mentored for nineteen years by one of the most incredible human beings on the planet — the late Mr. Jim Rohn — and my commitment to him was to “pay it forward” and continue to share all that he so generously taught me… including understanding what a mentor is and how to start a relationship with one!
Now there are some people, especially among the youngest and brightest folks entering the marketplace — the millennials — who were taught that they should ask a leader they admire to mentor them.
This often puts that person in an awkward position in which they feel obligated to say “yes”, even if they really want to say “no”. And in those situations no one wins. Similarly, there are times when those who work hard at “appearing” to be successful, who really aren’t qualified to mentor someone, seek out people to “mentor”, with a subversive agenda of personal profit and gain.
Neither of these models produce long-term results. And I can tell you that I couldn’t personally have helped to create five millionaires over the past 35 years among the people I’ve mentored, if I approached mentoring from either of those two broken models.
So let’s start out by letting go of some common misconceptions, right from the start:
- Mentoring is not about you.
- Mentors are not normally going to seek you out.
- Being mentored is not a passive process on your part.
- Becoming an intern is the best way to be mentored.
Just let those ideas go, because none of them work, and all of them are mistaken.
Here are the ten critical steps I’ve personally taught some 358,000 entrepreneurs to follow, when seeking out a qualified mentor:
1. Ask yourself what you’re trying to accomplish
If you’re already a strong marketer, but want to know how to close more business, you don’t need to seek out a mentor who is a master marketer. You need a master closer.
What skills, strengths and qualities are you looking to build in yourself? Make a list.
2. Identify someone who has those qualities, strengths and skills, and then do your homework
Just finding someone who is successful in a particular business, or maybe even in a particular company isn’t enough. In fact, my mentor was already long retired from business when our relationship began.
After you find someone who has the qualities and strengths you’re seeking, in the field you’re wanting to grow, then start doing some homework. Real mentors have blogs, training videos, content that demonstrates evidence of their effectiveness.
Now many times that content is private, and you won’t just find it on YouTube or even on the blog itself, but you have to seek harder. (Ask the mentor if there is some particular content they’ve created that teaches you how to begin to set the stage for success in your field. If they tell you that you have to buy their course to see it, ask if there is any sample content you can see first.)
Like any strong entrepreneur, I offer my consulting services to any serious aspiring wealthbuilder, CEO, and entrepreneur, struggling to make it in the 21st century marketplace. And I am paid well for that type of mentoring. So my content is split between the private, paid training, the one-on-one mentoring, and about 150 hours worth of open-source, freely accessible content anyone can see on the blog you are now reading.
By digging in, and finding out what your prospective mentor is all about, you will discover what his or her strengths are, and ensure that there is a good fit for your personal needs and expectations.
3. Ask for a consultation
Don’t ask the person to mentor you until you’ve scheduled a consultation or meeting with them, preferably via video chat or in person.
Come prepared with questions, but let the conversation flow organically and informally.
Let the person know that you are seeking a mentor, and would like to get a sense of whether there would be a good fit between you and them, if they are interested in mentoring someone.
Realise that some people may not be interested or have the time to do so, and be prepared not to take that personally. If that happens, ask if they could share one or two key things that made all the difference in their careers, and thank them for their time.
Mentoring is a social contract. When you’ve asked the person you want to mentor you and they’ve agreed, you will usually establish some ground rules on what you and they expect.
That initial session will give you a sense of whether this will be a good thing or not.
Qualified mentors ask questions. They encourage you. They seek out your existing strengths and uncover the best way to use them to accomplish your goals.
You’ll know if there is a connection there. You’ll know if this person thinks outside the box and is enthusiastic about working with you.
5. The Fortune is in the Follow-up
Probably one of the most important aspects of starting a relationship with a mentor is following up promptly and accomplishing whatever “groundwork” needs to be done.
Many of the people I am mentoring come to me with no marketing system in place, and so that often means helping them first set up some basic funnels, autoresponders, webinars or maybe a voicemail system, and virtual business card. I expect them to set these things up within a reasonable amount of time, so that they have the tools they need to begin doing what matters most… cultivating relationships with prospects.
6. Relax into the process
Mentoring is an organic process, like any relationship. And the key is letting is develop, just like any other relationship. In the beginning, there may be many questions, stories, and ideas shared, while later on the intensity picks up, and the interaction takes on a more thrilling intensity as well. Just commit to being there, and let it happen naturally.
7. Focus and commit. Don’t get challenged and quit!
If there were one thing that was the most frustrating about mentoring people it’s to see how many of them get put off any time someone calls them on their shit.
A guy tells me he’s going to be on for a video chat at seven, and then at 7:15 tells me he’s at the grocery store, and will be home in fifteen minutes. Then, having wasted fifteen minutes of my time, at 7:15 says he needs fifteen more minutes to turn on his Internet, and finally calls me 25 minutes later, when I am already scheduled for another call ten minutes thereafter.
If I call him on not valuing my time or his, he might say, “You’re right. I am sorry. Let’s not let that happen again,” or he could become defensive and check out right away, because he was challenged.
When you are challenged by a mentor who genuinely cares, what you do next is critical to your growth and success.
8. Manage up
Managing up is a term I first read in a Lifehacker article, which I immediately integrated into my mentoring process.
Here are the five basic steps for managing up:
1) Set the expectation for your mentor to meet with you regularly.
2) Come to every meeting with a detailed agenda.
3) Keep a pulse on your mentor’s and your own changing priorities.
4) Anticipate problems and offer solutions.
5) Always be prepared to give status reports on your project at any time.
This will mean that as your relationship deepens, you ask for more of your mentor’s time — and you deserve it.
This doesn’t mean taking advantage of them or monopolising their time. It also doesn’t mean using your time as an excuse for not doing the nuts and bolts of building your business. But there will be times when you just want an extra 30 minutes outside of your regular mentoring session, to touch base and get a better pulse on how you and the relationship are doing.
9. Welcome honest feedback
Asking for feedback makes you vulnerable, but it’s the best way to accelerate the learning process. A qualified mentor won’t seek to “destroy” or hurt you with negative feedback, and any constructive criticism should always include positive ideas to help make your performance better.
10. Marry yourself to the process. Divorce yourself from the outcomes.
Unlike an internship, which is a set period of time in which you will learn a set and very limited group of skills. Mentoring is an organic process. It can’t be banged out in a month, or a summer.
Mentoring is a mutual commitment to work. And it’s a commitment to seeing things through to success, which means being committed to the process, while not becoming derailed by the initial outcomes.
In the beginning of a mentoring relationship, you do a lot of things no one else will do, so that as time progresses, you earn more than a lot of people will ever earn.