If you want to get good at something, you need to do three things.
- Learn.With all the books, articles, podcasts, conferences and courses to you, you’ve got plenty of opportunities.
- Practice.Knowledge alone won’t make you an expert – you’ve got to practice and this is hard work.
- Get a coach.Even with knowledge and practice, you’re missing the secret sauce. You need a coach and a mentor.
But finding a coach or a mentor can be tough.
Maybe you’ve asked someone to mentor you but that relationship never got traction. Maybe you’ve met someone for coffee but it never grew beyond that. Maybe you’ve sent a few emails to people you respect, but they didn’t have time for a mentoring relationship.
Here are some ideas and strategies to help you find (and learn from) the right mentor.
You need mentors and heroes.
The most famous and successful person in your industry might not be the best mentor. In my business, I work with pastors and church leaders. It’s easy to look to the pastors of successful mega-churches as mentors, but it’s more likely these are heroes.
Your mentor doesn’t have to be in the same industry.
You’re looking for someone who has broken through similar issues, not necessarily someone who works in your exact industry. If you’re an aspiring filmmaker looking to build an agency, you could learn from the small town doctor who grew her practice to five specialists.
Look for someone two steps ahead of you.
If you’re the pastor of a 150 member church, look for a mentor who has led trough that type of growth in recent years. If you’re running a restaurant and want to franchise, the McDonalds model might not work from you. Look locally and find someone who opened a second location.
I’ve been guilty of taking time, energy and resources from people ahead of me and failing to offer value to them. Instead of thinking “what can I get” ask yourself “what can I offer.” One quick tip…offering to buy a mentor a $3 cup of coffee is nice, but her time and expertise is worth so much more. That’s not really the kind of value they are looking for.
I hope you have an extensive network of friends and family who love to hear your ideas. But there’s absolutely no substitute for HIRING a coach. You don’t need to pick their brain, you need to pay for their services.
Be a mentor.
When I was starting out in business, I hoped someone would take me under their wing and show me the ropes. But hope isn’t a good strategy for much of anything. One of the best things you can do to find mentors is start giving away your time.