A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself. -Oprah Winfrey
Mountain Peak in Austrian Alps
Some dreams in life are like climbing the small mountains, which we can get in shape for, do research on, prepare for, and navigate ourselves successfully to the peak with quite a lot of work, but can do it mostly on our own. But, in order to reach a big dream, a lifetime goal, and achieve excellence in life, we need others to help us get there.
Certainly, Sir Edmund Hillary could not have summited Everest without his guide, Tenzing Norgay. Mozart had his Haydn. Michalangelo had his Bertoldo di Giovanni. We need others to help us achieve big dreams.
Here, eight important steps to reaching out and finding a mentor:
1. Know who you are.
I believe we all have a certain gift which we were created to use, a specific sweet spot we can operate in that contributes to the world around us. When we know who we are, we can begin to dream, and understand what goals fit with the gifts and passion we’ve been given.
2. Think deep, and aim high.
Reflect on what it is you really want to do with your life. Set a goal according to that dream.
3. Understand the arena.
Spend time learning about and understanding the arena you will be competing in. For writers, learning about the publishing industry and the ins and outs associated with writing and publishing a successful book takes years.
4. Do the work.
Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, talks about success. What is necessary to achieve success in any arena is: hard work, and lots of it. 10,000 hours, or about 10 years, in order to become an expert in a field.
5. Research and ask for recommendations.
In order to find a great mentor, seek out people who are influential in your field and who can help you reach your goals. It could be a local mutual friend, or it could be a consultant who can be hired from another geographical location. Don’t limit yourself. But especially find someone with a positive spirit, who taps into hope.
6. Make contact.
Ask them to dinner, or to have coffee — some place and time that would be flexible and non-committal. Talk about your goal, but don’t dominate the conversation with it. Instead, ask interesting questions, and learn from the time together.
7. Put their recommendations into practice.
8. Work toward making the relationship mutually beneficial, toward the future.
So much more could be said on the subject of mentors, as well as the important practice of becoming a mentor and helping others along toward their dreams.
In almost every success story in life, there is a very important person behind the scenes who helped that dream come true. Sometimes it’s a spouse or a parent or a sibling who does the vital role of encouragement, but most times reaching the dream requires someone who can bring specific skills, wisdom, and expertise to your work toward a goal.
The mentors I’ve had in life thus far have influenced my life profoundly for the better. And to those important people, and to those mentors in my future, I would like to (again) say thank you.
Do you believe in the power of having a great mentor? Why?