When you have a mentor helping you along your path to success, it’s a beautiful thing.
They can instill confidence in you. They can encourage your decisions. They can show you how to be more efficient and save valuable time.
If you’re fortunate enough to find one of these people who is genuinely dedicated to making people better and showing them how to succeed, then you are in good hands.
However, if you’re focusing on this person like they have every answer in the book or know everything, you will be disappointed.
How To Learn From A Mentor
This should go without saying, although I must clarify because I’ve seen many people look up to people and act like this person is able to show them everything they will need to know in life.
There’s a strange phenomenon, that once you learn a ton from one person, you credit them with having the answers to all your other problems and woes.
Though this isn’t reality.
Also, having only one person to look up to and learn from is like experiencing the same flavor food for the rest of your life.
It’s excellent by itself, but there is so much more to experience, and from additional perspectives, from many other people.
No one man or woman has all the answers.
At times people make others their idols. Depending on the degree, it’s not necessarily harmful to do so.
Will Durant speaks on this: “for why should we stand reverent before waterfalls and mountaintops…. And not before the highest miracle of all: a man who is both great and good?”
It’s natural to look up to greats, as we humans have had the need to progress and have battled with nature to become the superior species for thousands of years.
Just the fact that our species has attained dominion over all the beasts in the world is a testament to our progressive willpower and usage of the mind.
We are not the strongest. Silverback apes would rip our limbs off.
We are not the biggest. Grizzly and polar bears would ravage our bodies in a 1-on-1 scrimmage.
We are not the most ruthless. Anacondas would squeeze the last gasp of air out of each lung.
We are the smartest and the most adaptable.
These other species could easily maul us had we no knowledge of how to protect ourselves from them, hunt them, and prepare them for our meals or domesticate them for our purposes.
How To Discern Mentor Knowledge
When we’re looking up to mentors who teach us specific pieces of knowledge or ways of thinking, we must also be willing and able to look past this person as well.
More importantly, we should be able to find the higher source of knowledge and wisdom at all times. Ask yourself questions such as:
Where did this mentor get this knowledge?
What type of influences helped them form their opinions?
Is their advice still relevant to what I’m learning?
I call this ignoring the finger that is pointing to the way.
Pay more attention to what they are showing you, and less of how they’re doing it. Develop your own experience and style. Forge your own path.
People can lead you in certain directions, people can help you along your path and people can absolutely shave years off of your necessary learning curve.
You want to absorb all relevant information that you need, and become a worthy student to qualified teachers. You don’t, however, want to view this person like they can answer every issue in your life that comes up.
Everyone you’re looking up to was once at a similar level to you.
They needed to go through the due diligence stage to learn all the skills they have now and be able to teach you what you wish to learn.
How to Evaluate Genuine People
In this process, as well as most things in life, it is vital to look at people’s motivations and incentives. You want to know why they do what they do so you can see the whole picture.
When looking for a mentor, it’s no different. You’ll want to fully understand why someone so far above you would want to work with you and help with your progress.
Are you paying them for their value? Are they investing in you and your progress long-term to catch you up? Do they want to give back because of their massive success?
Once you talk about this with them and intuitively consider any other underlying motives, it will help you both clarify what you’re after.
Things to Do With A Mentor
By all means find as many worthy mentors as you need in your life, because they will help you tremendously on your path. Pick their brain, ask them questions, ask them to show you things if they’ve got the time and are willing.
Always discern for yourself whether you should take action on their advice.
Ask how they see your situation, get a new perspective and let them influence your decisions, if you so choose.
Things Not to Do With a Mentor
Do not burden your mentors with all the issues you’re working through; explain how you will fix them instead.
Focus on solutions; they’ve got their own issues to deal with.
Don’t come to them expecting an immediate answer all the time and do not ask for a ridiculous amount of personal involvement/time commitment.
You want to prove to yourself and them that you are competent enough to dive into the problem and come back above water with a solution.
People in leadership positions cannot help you, unless you are willing to help yourself.
They could be showering you with gold in the equivalent of advice and insight and you would never utilize the potential of it, because you were unwilling to take any action. It all boils down to what you do and how much you’re willing to go after you want fully.
Any mentor or successful person in the world is not able to change you, only you can.
This is why it’s so important to heed their advice, listen to their wisdom, but more importantly take action on the things they’re telling you.
Avoid This Mentor-Deterrent
One of the most annoying things for people in successful positions to deal with is when people throw strings of questions together and ask them all at once.
This is enormously, incredibly inefficient.
The reason the people have the questions in long strings is because they have not started what they are dealing with; they are not actual legitimate questions.
People who never start things or who have analysis paralysis, do not know they are sabotaging all of their progress.
Questions that waste time of the mentor are likely to be frustrating and make that person not want to work with you. Anyone at all who is successful got there by figuring their way and taking action.
Don’t try to piggyback off of others’ success. Ask a question or two, by all means but if your mentor is willing to spend valuable time answering something you want to know, take action on it.
Then once you have results, ask a new question about something else.
No one wants to hear a hundred reasons you can’t succeed or all of the obstacles in front of you. Everyone who is successful now was once in your shoes, and has conquered the types of things you are facing.
Another reason is they have bigger problems to deal with because the more problems you can successfully overcome, the bigger business you can handle.
Only Pick People You Want to Emulate
You can’t be too caught up in the types of people you’re learning from and how they behave because while their advice might be helpful, you will need to decide who you’re going to become.
You decide this by the thoughts you think, the actions you take, the habits you develop over time, and what importance you place on different things in life.
Pick people you’d like to learn from and become more like. You can learn different things from different people, but be careful, since the people you’re learning from are likely to rub off on you heavily through osmosis.
Don’t go into an apprenticeship thinking you can mentally separate everything in neat spaces. You will become more and more like the people you spend the most time with, and that should not be taken lightly.
Use this effect to your advantage so you can thrive, grow and learn valuable life skills.