4 Common Myths Busted & How to Find a Mentor

You’ve probably heard from countless life coaches, self-help gurus, and talking heads that you need a mentor. I couldn’t agree more. It is imperative that you have a coach or mentor if you want to take your skill or craft to the next level. But, most people don’t know how to find a mentor.There are a lot of myths and mystique that surround the mentor-protege relationship. I’d like to tackle a few that might be holding you back from finding a mentor.

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Myth #1: The Free Fallacy

You pine for a mentor willing to take you under their wing and impart you with all their wisdom, for free. You reached out to busy, A-List professionals in your field of study. Your proposition, a cup of coffee for their time and advice. You close your letter with a carefully crafted yet presumptuous line, “I look forward to your response.”

You check your email on the hour every hour.

*crickets*

I’ve tried this myself, so don’t feel too ashamed. I always believed the statement, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear.” Well that may be, but it’s not always that easy.

The Truth: Pay Up Sucka

The last thing a mentor needs is another cup of coffee from a needy voice in their inbox. I’m not saying that in the history of the mentor/protege relationship there hasn’t been an instance where someone wasn’t helped for “free”. But if you look deeper, there was some sort of value-proposition where some value was exchange either physically or psychologically. Personally, I get my mentor’s and coach’s advice, tutelage, and attention the old fashioned way; I buy it. I pay a fitness coach, a guitar instructor, and in exchange for my work, a writing/business coach.  If you are really serious you’ll find a way to afford it.

 

Myth #2: The Diamond in the Rough

The mentor will see something in me and want to help.

The Truth: Exchange Value

It is true that a lot of mentors are self-serving in the way that they want to create a legacy for their work. They see new energy in their protege and want to impose their will or impart their legacy upon them. Knowing that their work and methods will be carried on by the young upstart. They are willing to guide and teach, but need to receive something in exchange for their guidance, either tangible or intangible, physical or psychological. Invest your time and energy to show the mentor that their time and energy is worth it to them. To simplify free market economics down to one sentence. The system works when you exchange value for value. There is no bigger slap in the face to a mentor than to watch their advice go unheeded. Don’t waste your mentor’s time, it’s an nonrenewable resource and it’s finite. You can’t make more time.

Always give first.,

  • Volunteer to do something for the mentor that she can’t do herself or doesn’t have time.
  • Give them an idea or list of ideas on things they may be interested to write about.
  • Tactfully suggest business ideas or opportunities.
  • Have your finger on their pulse, know their plans, hopes, dreams, and pain points. Design plans or systems to help them with their weaknesses and execute on their big plans.
  • Do a project that they may not have the time or expertise to do.
  • Be an asset or resource, not a needy energy sucking vampire. You are either adding value or taking it away, there’s no middle ground

 

Myth #3: The  Local Mentor

Many neophytes long for a master or sensei to invite them into their dojo and take them thru the trials of Miyagi and Morpheus.

The Truth: Enlist a Virtual Mentor

You may not have direct access to someone but can be imparted with their knowledge nonetheless. Unfortunately, the people you are looking to emulate or seek guidance from are busy with their own projects and pursuits. They value time and it is at a premium. Their philosophy can be endowed in you through their collective works.

Who’s work do you enjoy? Have you studied it thoroughly? Have you read all their musings and philosophies? Find out who they learn or have learned from. Learn from them as well. If you have read, viewed, or listened to your mentor’s entire catalog you will certainly know who they have emulated and the works they have learned from. Try their philosophies or make one of your own that’s a mash-up of multiple mentors.

In this era we are no longer bound by proximity or borders. Through the power of cell phones, Google Hangout, Skype, and FaceTime you now have access to a mentor anywhere in the world.

Maybe your ideal mentor is long since deceased. This doesn’t mean their inspiration is out of touch. In his book, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill suggested creating a cabinet of invisible mentors to guide you.

 

Myth #4:  Someday I Will be Good Enough and Will No Longer Need a Mentor

You probably think that once you have “made it” (I’m not sure what mystical plane “it” exists on but it’s definitely not in this reality) you will no longer need a mentor. Or that if you’re someone’s mentor it would be hypocritical to have a mentor of your own.

The Truth: The Greats Have Mentors

Michael Jordan had The Zen Master, Phil Jackson.
Tiger had Harmon and Haney
The Mahatma Gandhi even had a mentor, The Grand Old Man of India
The likes of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady still have Quarterbacks coaches.

If you’re not progressing in your craft you’re regressing, there are always things to be learned and new summits.

Conclusion

Mentors are for guidance, structure, and accountability.  Do not mistake them for your therapist. Your coaching sessions aren’t for sob stories or venting. Use them as strategy meeting to accomplish your missions. Although, the value you bring to them is nice what they are really looking for is your obedience.

Once you have become proficient in your craft, don’t break the cycle. Be a mentor to someone else. Remember the advantages to being a mentor. There is also probably something the student can teach the master.

If you are still convinced that you can’t find a mentor, read Dan Miller’s post with 10 actionable items to acquire mentoring.

Mic check: How will you use this advice  to find a mentor? Do you have a mentor, how did you come about attracting them?

Author: Jeff

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4 Comments

  1. Great post, Jeff! It’s always a nice reminder to think that even the greats have/had coaches or mentors. Just like you mentioned MJ, Tiger, etc… Ali had a coach or mentor, too, Tony Robbins has mentor, Pat Flynn does too, all of the greats do and so should we! Awesome article, my friend!

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  2. Thanks, Bill!

    Yep, behind every great player is a better coach.

    I wrote this article to remind myself that everyone needs a mentor but there are less than conventional ways to get mentorship.

    I used “lack of mentorship” as an excuse for too long. I now have a handful of virtual and real mentors for each area that I’m working on.

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  3. Love the myth-busting ideas here — and seeing your post (thanks to a suggestion from Buffer) was perfectly timed, because I was just finishing MY post with five tips for health and wellness bloggers (my tip #4 is to consider a coach or mentor). I’ll tweet you when I publish my post, so you can see I linked to this post. Oh — and I’m following you on Twitter now! #ilikedonutsonsaturdaytoo

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