It doesn’t matter how smart or talented you are, if you want to get somewhere you need to have some good mentors in your life – people who have been there, done it, and got the T-shirt. It’s so valuable to take that knowledge to become the best you can be.
There are a few different factors to consider when looking at your mentors…
The best isn’t always best
It may sound a little counter-intuitive, but the person who is the best in their field, won’t necessarily make the best mentor. Often with people who are naturally talented or brilliant, they can find it difficult to pass on actionable learnings. Their natural talent enables them to do things that only they can do, so learning how they do it won’t work so well for anyone else.
Leo Messi is probably the best footballer of all time, so for him to try and teach someone else how to do what he does would be a complete waste of time. Far better to learn from someone who might have less talent, but can explain exactly where you’re going wrong and how to make those little changes to make you the best version you can be.
You don’t have to agree with them
It’s also tempting to pick mentors who match well with you. We all have different styles and personalities, so I can understand the reason for choosing someone with a compatible approach. I personally don’t think you need to worry about this quite so much.
I’d argue you could actually learn more from someone who sees the world differently to you – though this will require empathy on your part to be able to make the most of it. The most important thing is that you see them as an expert.
The more the merrier
You might like the idea of having a single Yoda-like mentor to help guide you along the right path, but these are very hard to find. I think it’s far more beneficial to have a few who give value in different areas of your life. You might have a mentor who you trust in your professional life, or from a sport or hobby. There isn’t a magic number, but I always look to learn from as many people as I can.
Mentors come in many forms. You don’t need to know them or get face to face time with them to be counted as a mentor – just someone whose opinions and advice you value. My biggest mentor has always been my father. I have taken his great advice many times over the years, and although I’m not following the same career path as him – and we don’t always agree – I know that any knowledge he imparts comes with years of valuable experience.
Who are the mentors in your life?