Mentors have been an integral part of my process over the years. I don’t believe I’d be where I am today without the guidance and support I’ve received from my various mentors. They’ve helped me in many areas, from my relationships to my business and more.
At the same time, I’ve learned quite a few lessons along the way. Some of these have been quite expensive ones, too, to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. Other mentors guided me into making decisions that hurt me emotionally. The worst experiences were with those who had me spinning in circles and ultimately just wasting a lot of time.
I’m a big fan of mentors but I want to help you make sure you choose the right ones. In a world of information overload and Internet gurus, it’s easy to find yourself led astray. Everyone’s an “expert” on one thing or another but you don’t want to put your faith in these self-proclaimed professionals.
The sports cars and watches might make it look like their life is together and a few well-placed ads can drive that message home. But being a good marketer and being a good mentor are two completely different things.
The most important thing when it comes to mentorship is choosing an effective mentor. My oversights in the past make it easier to figure out the frauds today. These are some of the biggest mistakes I made when I was looking for mentors. Hopefully you can learn from my experiences and avoid doing the same.
1. Getting distracted by material success
Too often men find themselves caught up and distracted by material wealth. Someone’s material success has nothing to do with their overall lifestyle and happiness. Just because someone has a Lambo in the driveway and a Rolex on their wrist doesn’t mean they’re qualified to give advice. Their possessions have little to do with their life as a whole.
Today I look past flashy exteriors to the type of lifestyle they’re living. I take advice based on their overall happiness, not on whether they’re stacking millions in the bank. They have to prove their understanding of their particular subject matter. They also need to show me that they’re talented or skilled enough to get me from one point to another.
2. Looking to mentors too far outside your age range
Age isn’t an immediate disqualification but you should look for mentors around the same stage of life as you. If you’re a man in your 50s, there’s little to nothing a 20-something mentor has to offer that’s applicable to your life. They can’t advise on building a healthy long-term relationship or navigating massive career decisions. Their life experience is too limited.
On the other hand, if you’re in your 20s and looking at a mentor who’s 50-something, he might be a bit disconnected from your stage, too. He might not be forthcoming about his whole story or he may alter some parts to make it seem like he sailed through an area you’re struggling in.
I think the best option is to look for a mentor who is no more than a few years younger than you or 5 to 10 years older than you. They’ll be an individual you can envision growing into over the next few years. Their success feels more realistic and achievable because they’re closer to where you’re at in your own life.
3. Believing the fallacy of the self-made man
There is no such thing as a self-made man. I didn’t get to this point in my life on my own; there’s no way I could have done it on my own. No one gets to where they are without at least some sort of support. Whether it’s social, emotional, or financial, there is always some assistance along the way.
That doesn’t mean these men don’t have drive and self-belief, though. They had some help along the way but they took that guidance and used it to the best of their abilities. I used my dedication and persistence to keep moving forward but I still needed someone to walk alongside me and keep me on the right path.
4. Seeking help from someone too far outside your experience
Think about what it is you want to accomplish with this mentor and consider what you need from them to do it. If you want to overcome your pornography addiction or compulsive sexual behavior, what are their qualifications for helping you in that area? Have they found a way to work through and overcome their problem? Do they have personal experience with it?
You can’t look to someone with a general qualification in, say, substance addiction for help with a pornography problem. They’re similar struggles but unique enough that you need someone with the same experience. Look for mentors who found success in the area where you hope to be successful if you want a positive mentoring relationship.