Everyone needs a mentor.
Human beings are social creatures, and we learn most of what we know from other people. A mentor is someone who has been where you want to go in life and can share with you valuable information, stories, insights, and ideas that will save you from making countless mistakes.
A mentor can help guide you and give you feedback that will make it so much easier and faster to achieve your goals.
So, if you’re looking for a mentor, you must be a pretty smart person. Too many people think they can become successful in life all by themselves. But becoming a self-made millionaire, self-made professional athlete, or self-made anything is a myth! We all need guidance and mentorship to achieve greatness in life.
It’s time to take your life to the next level by finding a mentor, or multiple mentors, to help you achieve your goals and dreams.
1. Set Goals
Before you even think about finding a mentor, you need to set some goals. You need to set a clear direction for your life so you know where you’re going. If you don’t know where you’re going, even the best mentors in the world won’t be able to help you out (and any great mentor would just tell you to set goals as the first step anyway).
So what are your goals in life? Set personal and professional goals and write them down.
- What do you want your life to be like in 5 or 10 years?
- Where do you want to go and who do you want to be?
- How do you want to spend your time?
- What kind of work do you want to do?
- What accomplishments would you like to achieve?
Once you’ve set some goals and you’re clear on your direction in life, it’s time to prove your dedication and intentions through action.
2. Do The Hard Work
Once you set goals, it’s time to get to work.
Let’s say your goal is to become a professional basketball player, and you’re looking for a mentor to guide you.
If you sit at home all day and watch TV or play video games, you’re not proving your commitment to your goal. Someone who was truly committed to becoming a professional athlete should be practicing and working out almost every day, at least several times per week.
How could a mentor take you seriously if you tell them you want to be a professional athlete but you’re not currently training regularly? You see, doing the hard work is by far the most important thing you must do to find a great mentor.
Everyone wants a mentor who will tell them the secret to success, but you need to know right now: there is no secret to success. Nothing in life will ever replace the need for hard work.
If you’re not already engaged in working hard to achieve your goal, you’re fooling yourself if you think a mentor will solve all your problems in life. You must learn to solve your own problems by working a hard. A mentor will help you when they see you working your butt off because they’ll know you’re seriously committed to your goal (unlike most people, who shy away from hard work because they’re so busy looking for the secret to success or trying to win the lottery).
3. Create Your Dream Mentor List
Once you’ve committed to doing the hard work it takes to achieve your goal, it’s time to write down your dream list of potential mentors who could help you along the way.
I recommend you make this list as big as possible, and don’t hold back. If you want Kobe Bryant, Shaq, and Lebron James to mentor you, add them to your list. Don’t worry about how hard it would be to reach them. Just write them down.
But don’t just add famous people to your list. Add people in your city and community. Add people who inspire you, even if they’re not necessarily the best basketball player with the most knowledge of your specific sport or goal.
It’s important to have many mentors in life. The truth is you can learn from anyone, even someone who may seem like they’re beneath you. Everyone can be your teacher and mentor in life.
There are two main ways we learn from other people: through examples and through warnings. Lebron is a great example of a successful basketball player. Bob Johnson is a great warning of a basketball player—he’s the guy you’ve never heard of because he was too lazy to keep practicing and training as much as he should have. Be like Lebron, not like Bob.
You should add as many examples of successful people to your list as you can think of. But don’t forget the warnings you meet along the way either. You need to be motivated by positive examples as well as negative examples in your life. When you think of quitting or taking it easy, remember Bob. Remember all those who gave up and quit and never achieved their dreams in life.
4. Get Clear on What You Want From Them
Before you start reaching out, get clear on what it is you’re asking of this potential mentor. Do you want them to train you hands-on? Do you want to meet once a month for coffee? Do you want to call them from time to time on the phone when you’re stuck and need help?
What exactly are you looking for?
The worst thing you can do is to reach out to someone and ask them to be a mentor without a clear request. If they don’t know what you want, they’ll never be able to give you what you want. So get clear on what you want from them before you reach out.
Now, once you’ve got your dream list written and you’re clear on what your request is, it’s time to start reaching out.
5. Contacting Mentors
There will be two types of people you’ll be contacting: those you know or have a friend who knows them (warm contacts), and those you don’t know (cold contacts).
For your warm contacts, reach out to them right away. Call them up, ask for an introduction from your friend, shoot them an email, or go visit them if you know where they hang out.
For cold contacts, find their email address or a social media account and send them a very brief message (2-4 sentences at most).
Be very clear in your email and state exactly what your request is. Here’s an example:
Mentor Email Template
Example 1: Basketball
I’m 16 years old and my goal is to become a professional basketball player. I’m currently practicing 2 hours per day 6 days per week—freethrows, dribbling, layup drills, and shots. I also watch YouTube videos every day to learn new drills and techniques.
Would you be willing to meet up with me, run through some quick drills, and give me some tips to improve my game?
Example 2: Writing
I’m a writer working on my first novel and I write 1,000 words per day, 5 days per week. I’m looking to get a traditional book deal, and I want to become a full-time author.
Would you be willing to review a chapter of my first novel after I’ve completed a few rounds of revisions and give me feedback on how I can improve it?
6. Join Groups
Once you’ve contacted your mentors, follow up with them. It takes time to build relationships, and if this doesn’t work for you right away, don’t give up.
Remember, the best mentors need to see that you’re serious and committed because they don’t want to waste their time helping someone who won’t follow their advice or follow through.
In the meantime, you should join a group where you can connect with other like-minded folks. Join a basketball league or camp. Join a local writer’s group or writing class. Surround yourself with other people who are excited about achieving a goal similar to yours.
Sometimes you’ll find your best mentors in an environment like that where you’re surrounded by other like-minded people.
7. When Stuck, Ask for Help
Sometimes you find the best mentors in life when you get stuck.
When you’re stuck, that means you have a specific problem in life that you don’t know how to solve. The good news is that means you’re now more clear on what the problem is, and that means you can ask specifically for help to solve that one problem.
This extra clarity can make finding a good mentor, and asking them a question they can quickly and easily answer, a whole lot easier.
Always remember when you’re stuck in life, all you need to do is ask for help. Your next big problem could be the key to finding your best mentor yet. Just remember you’re not alone—the world is filled with good people who are willing to help.
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Tom Corson-Knowles is the founder of TCK Publishing, and the bestselling author of 27 books including Secrets of the Six-Figure author. He is also the host of the Publishing Profits Podcast show where we interview successful authors and publishing industry experts to share their tips for creating a successful writing career.