Choosing A Mentor

In a little over a year I went from earning $20,000 per year and feeling very frustrated with my results and the time I was putting in, to earning close to half a million dollars a year.

You would have to admit those are pretty dramatic changes. But you are also probably wondering how did that happen? How could that happen? How was that possible in such a short period of time? My answer is simple…my mentor. Having a good mentor can provide a shortcut to success that can save you years. But exactly what is a mentor? How do you choose one and what should your relationship look like?

As you have already heard, I didn’t choose Bob as my mentor… he chose me. Nevertheless, I was a very willing participant. As my mentor, Bob saw potential in me that I did not see in myself… he believed in me, when I did not believe in my own abilities. In that relationship, I clearly benefited from Bob’s experience and skills, but please understand… mentorship in not a one-way street. I certainly had significant responsibilities in that relationship. Let’s examine the roles that both Bob and I assumed in that mentorship.

Bob walked a very fine line in this particular mentorship relationship given the fact that we had started dating. Because our relationship was not purely business, this certainly complicated things a bit. Bob clearly had more skill and experience than I did in sales and many times the easier path for us both would have been for him to “just do it” for me. That never happened though. Later he would tell me that it hurt him to watch me struggle with things that were second nature to him. Because he loved me he didn’t want to see me struggle, but he knew that my struggle was a necessary part of my learning and he was there to coach me through those struggles and to praise my successes. He was there to provoke my thinking… to help me see other ways “outside the box” of doing things. He was there to inspire me to reach higher and go faster. He was there to hold me accountable and he was there to empower me. He was more concerned about what I thought of me.. than what I thought of him. He was and is not only a good mentor… he is a great leader.

As frustrating as it must have been for Bob in this relationship it was equally as frustrating for me. I had to be a willing student. Most of the time that was easy. However there were times that he asked that I do something that I clearly did not want to do… and sometimes could not even see the benefit of doing it. I wanted to argue with him… I wanted to pick and choose the suggestions I implemented. I wanted to do it my way. It was at times like this that Bob would point out that my way was not working… if I wanted his results; I had to do it his way. When I persisted in doing it my way, he would simply stop working with me. That’s where our relationship got “sticky.” Bob continued to be warm and friendly in our personal relationship but simply would not push me to do it his way on the business level. He did not criticize or judge me… that was important not only on a personal level but on the business level as well. And in time, I always came to my senses and ultimately followed Bob’s direction. This is probably one of the most important points in a mentor relationship… you must do what your mentor suggests. Most people want help, but they want you to help them their way. Their way is giving them the results they are getting and those are not the results they want.

Let me digress for a moment and explain what I meant by “following Bob’s direction.” You might get the idea that Bob was telling me everything to do and I was simply a puppet following his lead. That could not be further from the truth. This relationship was not about making me a dependent on Bob for my skills, ideas and confidence. It was about instilling in me the confidence and skills to do it for myself. It was about my own personal growth… on many levels. Some of the mentorship involved seeing Bob in action. Leaning by seeing what he did. Other times Bob would ask me questions, provoke me to think about what I was doing, examine the results I wanted and the actions I was taking towards those results. We would discuss other ways of getting better results. We would discuss what would be implemented… agree on a strategy and then I would follow it.

One key element I have learned from all of my mentors is that they are personally involved in their own ongoing self-development programs. They are always studying at improving themselves. It should come as no surprise that one of the cardinal rules for working with Bob was that I had to be involved in an ongoing self-development program. Bob knew that unless I worked at improving me… little else would happen.

Over the years I have had several mentors… none with the same intensity that I have had with Bob though. Nevertheless, their input saved me considerable time and in most cases helped me earn a larger than average income at whatever I was doing.

I have, for the most part, over the years learned to hold myself accountable. When I have trouble with this or when I become stagnate it is time to seek out a mentor for some help. (I am acutely aware of the fact that the only problem I will ever have is ME… I refuse to be a victim, victims have no control over their future.) Bob continues to be a valuable resource in this area because most of the time when I am stuck… I either don’t have a goal or have lost track of my goal. Bob is quick to recognize that and provide me with just the right program to study or book to read and read and read. I have the good fortune of watching him and he never stops studying. Somewhere along the line I realized that if he is involved in continuous education, I should be as well.

As I look back and examine my various mentorship relationships I can certainly see some key elements common to them all:

  1. You both must be committed to the mentorship relationship… define your responsibilities and expectations.
  2. You must allocate time for this mentorship… specific time each week.
  3. Goals should be established with a time frame for accomplishing them
  4. Accountability has to be a key element of this relationship.
  5. The student must be a willing, enthusiastic participant.
  6. Involvement in a self-development program must be mandatory.
  7. Be honest with each other.

Having a mentor certainly made a big difference in my life… many times. Here are a few of the things I look for in a mentor today:

  1. I want someone who is extremely successful in the career I am doing/going to do and who can communicate what they did.
  2. I want someone working on big goals themselves.
  3. I want someone who will be honest with me and with whom I can be honest.
  4. I want someone I trust.
  5. I want someone who will hold me accountable.
  6. I want a strong person/ a strong leader.

And in the case of working less and earning more… it is important to choose a mentor who is demonstrating that in their life today… someone who is working less and earning more. I guarantee that the right mentor will not only make a huge difference in your success but also in the speed of your success.

If you’re keen to move forward – send me an email right now – use the contact form to ensure it comes direct to me –  do it right now! Let’s work together… enjoying time and money freedom!

~ Linda Proctor