Mentorship helps you fast-track your career by building on the guidance and experiences of someone else. Finding the perfect mentor may seem like an ideal that’s just out of reach, but it’s possible for anyone. These five simple tips will help you get clear on what you want in a mentor, your goals with the relationship, and ensure that you truly incorporate the value that this individual has to offer your career aspirations. I’ve personally found four awesome mentors for different aspects of my business and career, and this is the process I used to help identify the right people.
Get clear on what you want from your mentor
It’s impossible to find the perfect mentor if you don’t even know what you hope to gain from the relationship. Do you want someone to teach you trade secrets? Do you think you need help establishing a good mindset or work ethic? Do you want specific strategies for success? Perhaps you’re really just looking for an accountability partner who can offer advice and encouragement as you work through daily challenges.
Get out a piece of paper and write down the three most important qualities your mentor must have; keep it with you, and don’t settle for a mentoring relationship that doesn’t provide these things.
Find a mentor who is already successful
It doesn’t make sense to ask someone for relationship advice if they’ve already divorced five times. On the same token, it doesn’t make sense to find a mentor who hasn’t already achieved success. More importantly, make sure it’s the kind of success you want.
Building your career is time-intensive and often stressful, but always keep the endpoint in mind. What kind of lifestyle are you trying to build with this career? If you want to travel the world or have free time to spend with family, then find a highly successful individual who has efficiently automated or delegated their work to free up time. Don’t settle for the person who makes millions, but spends 15 hours a day behind a desk.
Seek out a mentor with similar values
Every individual — yourself and your prospective mentor included — is driven by a set of core values. These values are what motivate you, what drive your decision-making process, and are the ideals that can never be violated in your business dealings.
Core values are highly personal and individualized. If you don’t know them, then finding your core values is a fundamental step before moving on to finding the perfect mentor. Once you know them, seek out someone who lives by a similar set of ideals. Anyone who conflicts with your core values will not be an effective mentor.
Work accountability into the mentorship
Mentors bring a lot to the table, offering insight and experience with often very little in return. You can learn a lot from any well-matched mentor who comes into your life, but you have to consciously choose to do so.
Ask your potential mentor if he or she would be willing to help you set up accountability mechanisms in your time together. This may be in the form of review questions, “homework,” or even a simple call to check up on your progress within the projects inspired by your time together. A good mentor will generally be happy to help ensure that you truly internalize and use the valuable lessons he or she offers.
Recognize the value of cross-industry mentorships
One of the most important things to understand in your quest for the perfect mentor is that people can bring value from all industries. In other words, if you’re an accountant, you don’t need another accountant to be your mentor. Some of the most innovative and earth-shaking developments come from blending ideas across industries. Focus on finding your mentor according to individual experiences and mindset; you may be surprised what comes from a seemingly incompatible industry.
There is no real mystery to finding the perfect mentor except to be open to the possibilities. Business people and thought leaders of all varieties may present mentorship opportunities to you that could revolutionize your career. Above all, don’t be afraid to ask. While you can benefit from mentoring just by watching how an individual conducts business, there is no substitute for the truly individual mentorship between only two people. It doesn’t hurt to ask for this kind of commitment, and you may be surprised by who sees something special in you and takes the time to mentor.