Why You Need a Mentor

Doing your own thing is awesome, but maybe you're missing something?

These days, it seems like everybody is starting their own businesses. In fact, it’s almost surprising to meet a twentysomething who actually has a boss.

In many ways, this is awesome. This generation is one of the most entrepreneurial in a long time.

But, as great as it is to strike out on your own, sometimes people skip the crucial step of learning from someone who has gone before them.

Years ago, before I launched The Mentoring Project, my father-in-law gave me pieces of advice I think everyone needs to hear:

Find and Attach Yourself to the Hip of a Master

Millions of young men and women are confident, smart and talented. Most of them try to “make it” alone. They spend many years trying to figure out a craft, and then start excelling in their late 30s or 40s. But if you can attach yourself to a master (of any profession), you can speed up your mastery and accelerate the process by a decade.

Since I was in my 20s, I have carefully sought out mentors of excellence. The choosing is critical. Masaaki Hatsumi, the famous martial arts grandmaster, once said, “Students deserve their teachers.” Do not choose poorly. But you do need to choose. Look for mentors who are masters in the field. Look for visionary leaders, writers and communicators.

Find Mentors Who Believe in You and Listen to You

Who you allow to speak into your life is a sacred choice. I see many young leaders damaged by submitting themselves to the next strong personality. The strong personality may be impressive and self-confident, but with no personal concern for you. Worse, they may simply flatter and use you to build their own platform.

The same way a good mentor imparts wisdom, character and craft, a bad mentor will impart their habits, reactions and particular worldviews, as well. A bad mentor can be like visiting a bad chiropractor: You leave worse than you start.

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When a mentor believes in you, it does not feel like a possessive or controlling thing. He does not insist you do this or that. She feels more like a patient, listening friend. These mentors often become great guides and friends. They are not just advice-dispensing machines, they are people who are genuinely interested in you.

Find a Mentor Who Helps You Discover Your Own Voice

Many young voices are echoes, striving to sound like others. But echoes have diminishing returns, they get weaker with each reverberation.

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