The Value of Mentors
By Brian Tracy
Franklin once said, "there are two ways to acquire wisdom; you can
either buy it or borrow it." By buying it, you pay full price in
terms of time and cost to learn the lessons you need to learn. By
borrowing it, you go to those men and women who have already paid
the price to learn the lessons and get their wisdom from them.
the essence of the mentor-protégé relationship. By going to people
who are ahead of you in the personal or professional arena and
opening yourself to their input, advice, and guidance, you can save
yourself the many months (maybe even years) it would take and the
thousands of dollars it would cost to learn what you need to learn
all by yourself.
"Kop" Kopmeyer, a respected success authority, once told me that
perhaps the fastest way to get ahead was to study the experts and to
do what they do, rather than trying to learn it all by yourself. In
fact, he mentioned that no one lives long enough to learn
everything he needs to learn starting from scratch. To be
successful, we absolutely, positively have to find people who have
already paid the price to help us learn the things that we need to
learn to achieve our goals.
mentors you choose should be people you respect, admire, and want to
be like. The advice you seek should be guidance regarding your
character and personality and specific ideas on how you can do your
job better and faster. Remember, you can't figure it all out by
yourself. You must have the help of others. You must find men and
women who will guide you and advise you on the road of life, or you
will take a long, long time getting anywhere.
are two vital qualities to look for in a mentor. The first is
character and the second is competence.
Character is by far the most important. Look for a mentor who has
the kind of character you admire and respect. Look for a person who
has high degrees of intelligence, integrity, judgment and wisdom.
The more you associate with men and women who are advanced in the
development of their character, the more you will tend to pattern
them and to become like them.
second quality you look for in a mentor is competence. This means
that the person is extremely good at what he or she does. A good
mentor in your career is one who has the knowledge, skills, and
abilities to move ahead far more rapidly than his or her peers.
impact of a mentor on your life is dependent on two additional
factors. The first is your degree of openness to being influenced by
another person. Openness is so important because many people,
especially young people, are extremely impatient, always looking for
shortcuts. When they get advice on something that another person has
spent many years learning, they often try to add their own
variations and improve on it without ever having mastered the
Remember, when you open yourself up to guidance and input from
another person, concentrate first on understanding and learning
exactly what that person has to teach you. Afterward, you can modify
and change that lesson to suit your changing circumstances.
second factor that determines the influence of a mentor on your life
is the willingness of the mentor to help you in every way possible
to achieve your goals. We know that the more emotionally involved
someone is in our lives, the more susceptible we are to being
influenced by that person. When you seek out a mentor, you must look
for someone who genuinely cares about you as a person and who really
wants you to be successful in your endeavors.
a good mentor-protégé relationship, you must be wide open to the
influence and instruction of the other person, and at the same time,
the mentor must be genuinely concerned about your well-being and
your ultimate success. These are the two essentials.
ability to choose your mentors can be a crucial step toward
achievement in all areas of your life. So here are 12 steps for
building successful mentor-protégé relationships:
clear goals for yourself in every area of your life. Know exactly
what you want to accomplish before you start thinking of the type of
person who can help you accomplish it.
Determine the things you will have to do in order to achieve your
goals, the obstacles you will have to overcome, and the roadblocks
you will have to surmount.
Identify the areas of knowledge, skill, and expertise you will have
to acquire in order to overcome the obstacles existing between you
and your goals.
around for the most successful people in the areas in which you will
need the most help.
the clubs, organizations, and business associations these people
you have joined these organizations, become actively involved and
volunteer for responsibilities. This will bring you to the attention
of the people you want to meet faster than anything else.
study, and practice continually to get better and better at what you
do. The very best mentors are interested in helping you only if they
feel it is going to be worth their time. You will have no problem
attracting people to you when you develop a reputation for being
up-and-coming in your field.
you find a potential mentor, don't make a nuisance of yourself.
Instead, ask for 10 minutes of his or her time, in person, in
private. Nothing more. Remember, most potential mentors are busy
people, and they may be opposed to someone's trying to take up a
lot of their time. It's not personal.
you meet with a potential mentor, express your eagerness to be more
successful in your field. Tell him or her that you would very much
appreciate a little guidance and advice to help you move ahead. Ask
for an answer to a specific question, for a specific book or audio
program recommendation, or for a specific idea that has been helpful
to him or her in the past.
After the initial meeting, send a thank-you note expressing your
gratitude and appreciation for his or her time and guidance. Mention
that you hope to meet again if you have another question.
month, drop your mentor a short note telling him or her about what
you are doing and how you are progressing. Nothing makes a mentor
more open to helping you further than your making it clear that the
previous help has done you some good.
Arrange to meet with your mentor again, perhaps on a monthly basis,
or even more often if you work closely together.
course of your life, you will have many mentor-protégé
relationships. As you grow and develop, you will seek out different
mentors, the people who can give you the kind of advice that is most
relevant to your current situation.
Successful people are very open to helping other people who want to
be successful. This is especially true if they know you are
willing to be a mentor to others who are younger and less
experienced than you. The more open you are to helping others up the
ladder of success, the more open others will be to helping you.
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