Mentorship isn’t a new concept. From Socrates and Plato to Freud and Jung, the mentor-protege relationship has existed for a long time. In fact, ‘Mentor’ was actually a character in The Odyssey who imparted knowledge and wisdom to his young charge.
Research has repeatedly shown that people with mentors tend to thrive. They end up earning more, secure more promotions and end up in more leadership positions. Mentors offer something that school cannot, up-to-date real world advice. This is especially crucial in industries that are constantly evolving. Many of the most successful people in the world credit mentorship as a key ingredient of their success.
So how does a budding entrepreneur go about finding a mentor? And what should one look for?
Ideally, your mentor would be someone in a similar field but further down the path of their career. Basically, they’ve done the journey that you’re about to embark on. They’ve encountered challenges, solved problems and overcome the hurdles that are you are likely to face. They’ve learnt the hard lesson, therefore they’re in a unique position to offer you guidance.
Honesty is another crucial quality to look for in a mentor. You want a mentor who won’t sugarcoat things or fluff your ego. The best mentors are straightforward and direct. If you are about to make a mistake that your mentor has seen others do, you want them to let you know and not beat around the bush. Of course, like all relationships, for honesty to flourish, there needs to be mutual trust and respect. Remember, mentoring is a two-way street.
A good mentor is also one that is genuinely interested in your success and will offer you the advice, tools and connections required. Again, you must meet them halfway and rise up to whatever requirements and challenges they present.
Another important quality to keep in mind is that a good mentor is insightful. They reflect on the success of themselves and others, gleaning valuable insights on what works and what doesn’t. They’re then able to pass on these principles to their proteges. Not everyone is like that. Some people can achieve success but they’re unable to teach success.
But how and where can a budding entrepreneur find such a mentor?
Industry and networking events. Wherever like-minded people gather is a great starting point. There are several groups and organizations that seek to bring together entrepreneurs to network and help each other. Introduce yourself, make connections, foster relationships and above all, be honest. If you would like someone to take you on as their protege, tell them.
Like the mentor-protege relationship itself, be proactive and show genuine interest, and a suitable mentor will take you under their wing. As the old adage goes, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appears.
Written by Garry Johal