“People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine.” ~ Brian Tracy
Seeking out a mentor has been one of the most important things I could have done for my successes and my businesses. However, it wasn’t an easy choice for me. I was very skeptical about someone having an enormous amount of success in their chosen profession. You’re probably asking why? I believe, subliminally it was inbreeded into me from an early age that I was supposed to be mediocre, average blue collar, middle class American. Don’t get me wrong. The middle class is what drives our country; however my point is that I wasn’t taught how to succeed. If I wanted to succeed, I had to invest in myself. I believe that 95% of Americans are brought up by their families stressing get a good education, find a secure, decant paying job with a health benefits and retirement plan. This is what I was taught. If I wanted to be more, have more, achieve more I had to learn how to do so on my own.
I can remember being around 10 years old walking around my small town pushing a lawn mower. Offering to cut anyone’s grass for pennies. In the winter time, I walked around with a snow shovel offering to shovel their snow for pennies. I always had a strong work ethic. Hard work never scared me. My mother was and is to this day a strong, hard worker and I believe I inherited this trait from her.
When I left the rotating-shift working world, I made it a goal of mine to never work for anyone else again. My goal was to become a successful entrepreneur, to work for myself, to create my own wealth, create my own destiny, and build my own empire. I was always so passionate about people and in helping others that I wanted to do something where I could serve others that was beneficial to me and the people I would serve. Something called a “win-win” mentality. Not do as I say because I have the authority to say so. This type of mentality changed my thinking forever.
Becoming an entrepreneur wasn’t very hard for me. While in the working world, I always was busting my tail after hours or on my days off, whether it be landscaping, doing odd jobs around someone’s house or snow plowing. The reason entrepreneurship became a goal of mine was because I was tired of working for people that were bosses, not coaches. Bosses that didn’t deserve to be in a position they were in. Bosses that reached their position not because of merit but because of politics.
One day, I can remember looking into a magazine and seeing an article of a real estate agent that was selling over 500 homes a year making well over 3 Million Dollars a year. I read this article over and over again, saying to myself, “What does he know that I don’t?”, “What is he doing that I’m not”, “If he can do this, so can I”.
The article was inviting real estate agents to attend his seminar in Dallas, TX. I called the phone number listed in the article to learn more. I remember speaking to a very nice young lady about this seminar. I told her that I was very skeptical and if this was the real deal. After several conversations over the course of the week, I decided to pull the trigger and sign up for this seminar. I had no idea how I was going to pay for it, where I was going to stay, who I was going to meet. I hated to travel. I didn’t like being away from home and my daughter. I was pure green to all of this. What you are about to hear next, changed my life forever.
I arrived in Dallas, TX. and stayed at the hotel where the event was being held. I didn’t know anyone. I was on my own. The following day I can remember entering the seminar room and seeing about two thousands chairs behind tables. The room was enormous. Once the room filled up and the seminar began, I knew I had found a mentor to take myself, my life and my business to a whole new level.
My advice to anyone wanting to achieve greatness in their life is to not re-invent the wheel. Everything that we go through in business and in our lives, someone has already been there, done that and has conquered and found their way. You need to follow and model after someone, not just anyone that is doing what you want to do. Follow and model after someone that has learned from all their mistakes. If you can cut your learning curve in half, it will be all worth it in the end. What took someone 20 years, may only take you 5 yrs. if you do exactly what they teach you.
Below are some tips on choosing the right mentor for you. There are so many accounts that should be taken into consideration before hiring or choosing a mentor. I want you to know that the word mentor is not taken lightly with me. This is one word that I cherish, respect and admire too much to throw it around loosely.
Before you seek out a mentor, check out these tips:
1. Why do you want or need a mentor? You must be clear on this because hiring the wrong mentor could cost you money and more importantly valuable time you will never get back. Are you looking for someone to offer specific guidance and/or advice? Have you done your research? Is he or she the best in your chosen profession or industry? Do you just need a sounding board? These are all important factors that must be thought out strategically.
2. Define your personality and communication style. What kind of mentor would best complement you? You may choose someone who’s your opposite (an extrovert to your introvert, for example) or someone in whom you see yourself (and vice versa).
3. When asking someone or hiring someone to be your mentor, explain why you’re asking and what you’d expect out of the relationship (see No. 1). Name your reasons for approaching this particular person. Don’t be afraid to be flattering (e.g. “I’m asking you because you are the most successful person I know”).
4. A mentor is a powerful role model. Look for someone who has the kind of life and work you’d like to have. Choose a mentor you truly respect, admire and look up to for what they have accomplished. Don’t just go for the biggest name you can find. You must be the right fit.
5. Before asking someone to be your mentor, first consider asking for input on a single specific topic. How did that go? Was it good advice? Did the advice feel right to you? Was it delivered in a way that made sense to you? Did it fill you with confidence and energy? Ask to speak with others that are or have been mentored by them in the past. What were their thoughts? What were their successes and failures?
6. Show gratitude. Never let your mentors feel taken for granted! Also, supply feedback. If your mentor suggested something that really worked out for you, report back. People love hearing about their part in a success story.
7. When looking for a mentor, think beyond former bosses and professors. Look to older family members or friends, neighbors, spiritual leaders, community leaders, the networks of your friends and colleagues, or officials of professional or trade associations you belong to. Ask someone that you respect and admire for referrals?
8. Keep in mind that mentoring can be in many forms. It can be a monthly lunch or call, a quarterly lunch or call, a weekly mastermind session, or merely a steady E-mail correspondence. Your mentor does not even have to live in your city or region.
9. Many mentors derive pleasure from “molding” someone in their own images—great for them and great for you if you want to be molded. But beware of mentors who are too bossy, controlling, or judgmental. This is your path, not theirs.
10. Don’t become too dependent on your mentor. The idea is that one day you will take what you have learned and eventually be able to fly on your own. In fact, you may not take every bit of advice your mentor offers. Continue to think for yourself. Continue to research on your own learn from others. Keep an open mind. Don’t fall into the trap that your mentor is the only one you can learn from.
11. You’re allowed to have more than one mentor. In fact, you can have a whole committee if you want, and call it your Board of Directors. Choose different mentors for different facets of your professional and even your personal life.
12. Finally, if you ask someone to be your mentor and that person refuses, don’t be hurt or offended. Don’t take this personal. It may also be something that was meant to be. Maybe they wouldn’t have been a good fit after all. Things happen for a reason. You must believe this. Great mentors are very busy people. Thank him or her for the consideration and ask them to guide you in the right direction.
If you study the path of successful people, you’ll see that most, if not all of them had a mentor along their way. A mentor can change your course of direction both personally and professionally. Don’t deprive yourself of modeling after someone that has been there done that. If you truly want to achieve greatness in your life, go out and get a mentor of your own. You’ll be so glad you did.
About the Author
John R. Salkowski is the Founder of AchieveSuccessAcademy.com™, Retired Cop, Survivor of PTSD stemming from a shoot and kill robbery incident that eventually ended a successful 15yr career. He is an expert on Leadership, Success, PTSD & Overcoming Adversity. John is a successful Entrepreneur, Speaker, Author of 3 books; Leadership in The Line of Duty™: 50 Leadership Lessons for Making Split-Second Decisions from a Cop Who Has Been in Life and Death Situations, Leadership in The Line of Duty™: Success Thoughts and Quotes for Leaders and Amazon.com Best-Seller, Nothing But Net: Top Secrets to increase your bottom line, Health, Wealth & Success.
To have John speak at your next event, email his office at John@JohnSalkowski.com.
Copyright © 2012 Achieve Success Academy™. All Rights Reserved.