How to Find a Mentor to Help You Go Further, Faster

I mentored eight young men for three years. It was incredibly rewarding, and I wrote about it several times (see here and here).

How to Find a Mentor to Help You Go Further, Faster

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/franckreporter

As a result, nearly every week someone e-mails to ask, “Would you consider mentoring me?”

Unfortunately, I have to decline. I am taking this year off in order to focus on other priorities. But even if I were actively mentoring, my bandwidth would soon be exhausted.

Most people understand this and then ask, “Okay, so how do I find someone else to mentor me?”

Good question. But to be brutally honest, their chances of finding a mentor are slim.

The problem is their definition of mentorship. It’s too narrow. Let me explain.

When most people use the term mentor, they mean a one-on-one coaching relationship with someone older and more experienced.

It might be informal (someone who can advise them ad hoc) or formal (someone who is willing to meet with them on a regular basis). Regardless, the demand exceeds the available supply.

Fortunately, organizations like Radical Mentoring are working on training more mentors. But it’s a slow process. We simply don’t have enough mature men and women willing or able to make the investment.

So, what do you do if you are trying to find a mentor?

I suggest you broaden your definition of mentoring, so you don’t get stuck waiting for something that might not happen.

The truth is you can be mentored now if you understand the eight levels of mentoring:

  1. Blogs and podcasts. If you could wave a magic wand and be mentored by anyone, who would it be? John Maxwell, Seth Godin, Dave Ramsey or someone else? Chances are they have a blog or podcast and are already churning out a tons of content—for free. Are you taking advantage of it?

  2. Books. There’s no greater value than a relevant, well-written book. For less than $20, you can get someone’s best thinking on a specific topic. Never before in history has so much knowledge been available to so many, for so little. And if you don’t have the money to buy a book, go to the library.

  3. Courses. I’ve spent hundreds of hours with Tony Robbins, Brendon Burchard, David Allen, and numerous others. Not personally, of course, but by taking their courses. This is the next level up from reading a book. The instruction is more in-depth and, as a result, more likely to actually transform my behavior.

  4. Conferences. When possible, I prefer live instruction. It provides an opportunity for total immersion, focused learning, and interaction with other students. It occasionally provides direct access to the instructor(s). I make it a priority to attend three to four conferences a year as a student.

  5. Masterminds. I didn’t start hearing about these until a few years ago. Now they are all the rage. They are actually a very old idea. Benjamin Franklin, for example, had one. It’s a wonderful opportunity for peer mentoring. My friend Dan Miller has a great audio and PDF on how to create one.

  6. Membership Sites. This can be a wonderful hybrid of input from specific mentors plus the input of fellow members. For many people this is the perfect combination. That’s what I do, for example, at Platform University. There’s a monthly fee attached, but it is nominal and enables us to bring high-quality content to our members.

  7. Coaches. If you are willing to pay for a mentor, a coach is a great option. I employed one for more than a decade. While you may think you can’t afford one, I would challenge you to investigate it before dismissing it. If a coach helps you seize one opportunity, optimize your productivity, or avoid one fatal mistake, it will pay for itself many times over. I recommend Building Champions.

  8. Mentors. Though a true mentor may be difficult to find, it’s not impossible. If you have one in mind, start by building the relationship—just like you would anyone else. Don’t lead with “Will you be my mentor?” (That’s like asking someone to marry you on the first date.) Instead, get to know them. Look for opportunities to be generous. Start small and see where it goes.

Jesus said, “He who is faithful in little is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10). Until you have taken advantage of the lower mentoring levels, you probably won’t gain access to the higher ones. Even if you do eventually find a mentor, you’re cheating yourself by not doing what you can now to learn and grow.

Instead of focusing on what you don’t have—a one-on-one, traditional mentoring relationship—focus on what you do have: more opportunities than ever before in history to learn and grow. If you simply expand your definition, you will find there are mentoring opportunities everywhere.

Question: What mentoring opportunities do you have now that you haven’t taken advantage of? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • http://www.dwaynecastle.blogspot.com/ Dwayne Castle

    Thanks Michael. Great list and I’m beginning to be more diligent in using some of them myself. One of the things you mentioned was the slow process in training mentors. I’ve found that most of us have the ability to mentor someone in something, but we either sell ourselves short or avoid transparency. I’ve been around the block a time or two and I can choose to keep the lessons I learned, to myself or share when I have the opportunity. I wonder how many of our mistakes could have avoided, if only someone else would have spoken up?

  • http://MainStStark.com Jeff ‘SKI’ Kinsey

    One of my favorite topics. Thanks for some great insight. As I started to read your points, it made me think of the one person who shaped my career and life more than any other (circa 1983):

    Charlie “Tremendous” Jones. I quote him often:
    “You will be the same person you are today, five years from today, except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I love that quote. I am going to put that in my quote posts. Thanks!

      • http://MainStStark.com Jeff ‘SKI’ Kinsey

        You are always welcome. Thanks for paying it forward with your blog. Good stuff.

  • http://www.michaelnichols.org/about Michael Nichols

    This is helpful, Michael. A couple of years ago, I had similar questions – Does a leader or organization need a coach, counselor, mentor, or consultant? What’s the difference? I worked with Building Champions coach, Raymond Gleason to define each role. In this article I contrast each role – http://www.michaelnichols.org/coach-counselor-mentor-consultant/.

    Then, What does mentoring have to do with leadership? The truth is, if we’re not mentoring we’re not really leading – here’s that post – http://www.michaelnichols.org/mentoring-is-leading/. If we’re too busy to be fully committed to be mentoring new leaders, we’re too busy.

  • http://asmithblog.com/ asmithblog

    Right now I only have one mentor, but would like to get it where I have one for each area of life. I mean one person can’t be good at everything, right? So, I want a different person for each area who excels in that specific area to coach me along.

  • http://doingthings.net/ Andrzej Tucholski

    I like the idea that mr Green pursues in his latest book “Mastery”. Due to overload of information and people blogging almost about everything we – in many cases – don’t need “real” mentors anymore. “Real” as in one persond bound to be helping only one other person. If you understand English and have an Internet connection you’re pretty much ready to go :)

  • http://www.kixblogger.com/ Kix Blogger

    I also think those who are in leadership roles who are planning on retiring or leaving their position, should mentor their replacement or candidates for replacement.

    I have seen large successful churches crumble under the new leader who was not mentored by the previous pastor.

  • Fiso Mari

    Thanks forthe great topic.It certainly hasgotmethinking oiutside the box as I have been wishingfor a mentor fora while now

  • JustinRFoster

    Michael,

    Thanks so much for helping to expand my definition. I’ve heard you talk of being mentored through books and conferences before and that serves as a needed reminder to me. There are certainly many ways to grow. Thank you for mentoring me. And I look forward to gaining access to those higher levels of mentoring by being diligent where I am.

  • lancecashion

    The KEY to attracting a mentor is to be teachable and passionate about your calling. If ANYONE enters your mentor radar and gives you advice, send them a ‘thank you’ note. That person who you wish to be mentored by may not even know that he or she has done something of value for you. A short and sincere ‘thank you’ is a show-stopper for even the busiest person, if they have a heart to teach….

    Over the years, I have established an ‘orbit’ of mentors and advisors. I forgot where I first heard of the idea (most likely a book). Some of these people don’t know they are mentors. I consider Dave Ramsey and Chris Locuto ‘off-site’ advisors. I have two mentors in business. For several years, the senior pastor at my church was an ‘off-site’ mentor and advisor until two months ago when he began personally mentoring me. I never ask any of these folks to be my mentor. I simply listened, responded and remained teachable and available.

    I now have three folks who call me mentor. It makes me want to be my best for them, even if that means them seeing me at my worst. Thanks MH, you always make me think and thank :)

    • Jim Martin

      Lance, great to hear about the ways you have established an orbit of mentors. I really like what you say regarding the importance of a thank you note.

      • http://lancecashion.com/ Lance Cashion

        Thanks Jim. Sorry for the delay… not quite used to Disqus just yet.

  • michaelprosario

    Thanks for sharing your insights. God’s timing is amazing. I’m helping to design a social network to help mentor young students. You’ve provided some solid insight into features and ways we can organize the site.

    Thanks for being my mentor through your social media and your book… It really has changed my mindset. I love being your book and sharing it with my team.

    • Jim Martin

      Michael, great to hear about your project – designing a social network to help mentor young students. That is great!

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Prime3coaching/180794405305000 PRIME3COACHING

    Jesus said, “He who is faithful in little is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10).

    This is really interesting to me because when I meet with a potential client, I will NOT take them on board until they complete at least one action item. It shows me if they can complete at least one thing we had discussed that they will be committed to the process and continue to complete tasks assigned.

    As far as different ideas for “mentoring”, I always tell people the most influential people in my life are people I have yet to meet. Some I probably will never meet, but that does not mean they haven’t left a lasting impact on my life!

  • http://www.VictoryChristianCoaching.com/ Marianne Clements

    Michael,
    These are great ideas for being mentored.

    I was blessed to have a mentor and I would recommend that people be open to a wider range of mentors. My mentor didn’t have any special skills or talents, but she was a wise woman of God who was willing to listen to me and gently encourage me to consider alternatives. That was exactly what I needed and it propelled me forward in relationships and in business.

    Have a Victorious Day!
    Marianne

  • http://jorgesilvestrini.com/ Jorge Silvestrini

    When the student is ready, the teacher always shows up… The teacher may come in different shapes and forms, but it’s always available! D. Ramsey, M. Hyatt, D. Miller, P. Flynn, and many more – all teachers and mentors…

  • http://www.byronseyeview.com/ @akaTGIF on Twitter

    100% Michael!

  • http://www.johngallagherblog.com John Gallagher

    Michael, Thanks for sharing. Blogs and podcasts, along with books are a big part of my mentoring at this point. I have done frequent relcations, so a virtual mastermind group is something I may consider as I have friends across the country who are interested in growth. I travel a good bit with my work, so it could be challenging. Thanks for the link to Dan Miller’s resources. Thanks for being a mentor through PlatformU and your blog.

  • zxoiesru

    Don’t recommend Bluehost anymore. They SUCK NOW. I used to love them. They were the best. However, now they made all these changes and are AWFUL and websites are down half the time.

  • Lawrence Snow

    Now this might seem a bit naive but if you’re just beginning your journey and you seek and out and find other mentor opportunities as suggest above or indeed a mentor, how do you know if what you are gaining knowledge in is even the correct information if you have nothing to base it on?

  • P.Lynn

    Those were some great suggestions to consider. Having a mentor can be just as important as your professional experience when it comes to taking your career to the next level. Sometimes it is even beneficial to have more than one, to help keep your growth well rounded. Here is a great article: ‘How To Get Advice From Powerful People’ (http://goo.gl/1P55bZ ) that may help you nurture and build those relationships.

  • Jennifer Hacker

    Another great option to try is peer mentoring. A mentor is anyone you can learn from and a peer can provide great personal growth. http://www.thesinglediaries.com/inner-circle/looking-for-a-mentor/

  • http://www.suttonparks.com/ Sutton Parks

    Excellent article! For me, the challenge it so be faithful in what I already know how to do. Mentors tend to favor those that ‘pray with their feet’.

  • DJD

    Very interesting stuff, Michael. Have you considered a point#9 as “Co-mentoring”? I envision this as the “perfect marriage” of older and younger, gifted and struggling nicely, strong and weak. It might only occur if the pheromones align!