As I’ve said countless times before, there are no magical, hidden secrets that will catapult you to success. By almost any measure, sustained success is a ton of work. And when the going gets tough, we can get sucked into spinning our wheels looking for direction or help. That’s where a mentor comes in. It’s the ONE PLACE YOU CAN MAKE USE OF A SHORTCUT…one that will make the path to your goals much straighter and less bumpy. We all know learning from someone who’s been there can help add clarity, connect us to new resources, encourage us when we’re uncertain, but how many of us have successful+meaningful mentor relationships? Over the years, I’ve been asked how to find a mentor and what to do when you have one … I caught up with a designer pal Ram Castillo fresh off the launch of his new book “How To Get A Mentor” to lay out the blueprint:
1. Get clarity on what a mentor is.
If you’re thinking of a mentor as Yoda, Gandalf, or Dumbledore then you probably want to do a little mental reboot– no interstellar travel is required. Mentorship doesn’t need to be (and in fact, rarely is) a lifelong partnership. In fact, anything of the sort will freak most possible mentor candidates out of their skulls. A mentor is simply a person who gives guidance, engages in supportive dialogue and become a professional role model to a person who’s less experienced. Sure it could be on and off communication over an extended period of time… But it could literally be as simple as a 15-minute conversation.
2. Complete a personal analysis.
Mentorship is a two-way street, and before you even think about approaching a mentor, you need to be crystal clear on the context. Put pen to paper and give this some deep thought. Who are you, what are your goals, and what’s keeping you from those goals? Your personal context will help you narrow down specifically what you need. And remember, we are evolving. Who and what you needed a year, a month, or last week may not be what you need today. Really understanding that will help you hone in on the best mentor for you.
3. Pair your goals with the right mentor.
We all have a list of people we admire, love to work with, or pick their brain, but are they the right person to help get you to where you want to go?
Ram talks about a proper mentor embodying three things
a) someone who can provide guidance/coach you
b) someone who can support you, counsel you, listen and
c) a role model. Someone who had done what you ultimately want to do.
A friend can be a great listener but may not have the chops or experience to guide you. A coach may have advice, but it’s rooted in experiences that don’t apply. An idol is great for inspiration & motivation but if they aren’t actively listening & guiding you, you’re missing the sounding board you need to accelerate forward.
4. Ask for advice, not mentorship.
The word “mentorship”, to many people, feels like a huge commitment. Asking for advice is a great first step. Like any relationship, build rapport (online is OK, IRL is better). Make it a two-way street. Get advice and then show that you’ve acted on that advice before coming back for more. Be an active participant in the community. Don’t just think about what you can GET, consider what you can GIVE. What do you bring to the table? How can you share/support their work, creating an active dialog, and continuing to show up?
Remember friends, you’re not alone. Seek out good people. Make effort to know, connect, collaborate with, mentor under, the best people you can find. Screw that, the best people you can FATHOM. And once you identify them, seek them. Make an effort to cultivate those relationships and take those good people with you – figuratively and literally – on your journey.
Links From The Episode
“You Can Have It” by Fresh Espresso: https://www.facebook.com/FreshEspresso