- Elon Musk, Investor & Entrepreneur
Mentors have a genuine interest in you. They take a personal stake in your development and your business growth. They provide unmatched guidance, inspirational motivation, and the tough love you need when you’re climbing the mountain to business success. A good mentor will give you more than advice, they will give you access. Access to connections and experience, yes, but more importantly, they will give you access to the most powerful and resourceful influencer of your career: you.
When you work with a business mentor, by far, the greatest lesson is to get up and do the work. A business mentor gives you the encouragement you need to make those first important steps toward your goals. When you take those steps, you get momentum. Momentum is energy. It’s fuel for your inspiration, your creativity, and your drive and ambition.
That’s a broad overview of why it’s important to have a business mentor. It’s the overarching reason, but what are some of the specifics? What do you really learn from a mentor and how can they help you achieve success? How do you even find a good business mentor? Let’s break it down.
YOU LEARN THINGS YOU WON’T LEARN IN SCHOOLS OR COURSES
Mentorship is a personal relationship. The interactivity sparks a stimulating current of ideation. Our neural pathways light up in ways they wouldn’t otherwise. We’re able to tap into a creative process for generating new ideas because they’re understood differently. They’re understood at the very basic levels and bounced around immediately between an experienced teacher and an eager student.
This isn’t an experience you can get from a book or a classroom.
There’s an intimacy that exists between a mentor and their protegee. That intimacy gives you permission to set your ego aside. We run around afraid to be judged. That’s our ego. Our best ideas, our nagging questions, and our finest plans arise to have an opportunity to rise and shine once we let go of ego. The intimacy of a mentor and protegee relationship allows us the freedom of expression we need to succeed.
YOUR CHANCES OF SUCCESS IMPROVE BY MAGNITUDES
According to the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), 30% of business owners who had just one interaction with a mentor reported business growth. That number increased to 43% when they had five or more interactions. The Center for Workplace Leadership reports that 71% of Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs. Sage.com reports that 93% of startups say their success is a direct result of mentorship.
But where are these results really coming from?
Success is amplified by mentorship. In addition to connections, sage advice, and the occasional kick in the pants, a mentor helps you develop the confidence you need to achieve. Think of them like the momma bird that pushes the babies out of the nest. A good mentor is going to give you a few short flights fist. After a couple of tries, they will step out of the way and let you soar.
Successful mentors are connected. They pass those connections along because they know people like to do business with friends. Your mentor is already invested in your personal and business success. They know your strengths and your weaknesses. By that measure, they direct you to the connections that you will be able to serve well. Equally as important, they connect you to opportunities that will challenge you and stimulate your growth.
STRENGTHEN YOUR EMOTIONAL ACUITY
Emotional intelligence is an important component of business success. Sometimes a deal goes wrong or a meeting strikes the wrong chord. A young businessperson would be well served to find a mature business mentor. They’ve had the time and experience required to develop their emotional EQ. It’s an important skill set to develop for continued business success.
Critical business decisions cannot be made in an emotionally charged mindset. It’s one of the fastest ways to fail. A mentor will show you how to manage your emotional EQ. They’ll show you how to step outside the situation and observe rather than engage. When you’ve got the emotional acuity to observe your own emotions as well as the emotional state of the room, you’re on better footing than most people.
HOW TO FIND A BUSINESS MENTOR
The secret to finding a mentor is not as elusive as one might think. I’ve already mentioned one source, SCORE. They have local chapters all over the U.S. and they’re filled with retired executives who enjoy the role of mentorship. That’s quality that you want in a teacher because it means they’re passionate. You may have to talk to a few folks before you find the right fit, but in the long run, it will be worth the effort.
There are other ways to find mentors. Networking events come to mind. I mean, their sole purpose is bringing people together. It’s also possible to find them on social networks. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter clearly have thriving business communities. Those are just a few possibilities.
The main thing is to be patient, polite, and empathetic. Understand that mentorship is also a partnership. You want to make sure you vibe with the person you’re interacting with. Mutual trust has to be in place. You want to be able to trust your mentor with your true, personal self. Your mentor has to trust that you will not only listen, but you will do. That’s the best way to pay back a mentor, take decisive action on the advice you’re given.
In addition to connections, hard-won experience, and fuel injection to your confidence, mentors provide a personal touchpoint. It’s important to have a guide who understands you and works with you. A good mentor will want to see you grow personally and in your business life. The truth is when you find a good mentor you will be acquiring more than a teacher or coach. You’ll have a friend who will be with you every step of the way.
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Thought leaders & celebrities share their tactics for success on the Lisnic podcast by Lisa Teh & Nick Bell