Within thirty minutes I had eaten my high protein breakfast, slammed a cup of coffee, showered and sharpened my image for the day.
I loaded up Chrome and started watching videos on my favorite YouTube channel “BigThink.” Robert Kaplan of Harvard was speaking about coaching, mentoring, and how the senior business executives’ weakness is that they coach others; yet do not have a coach of their own.
He suggested that every person should have a coach big or small.
I thought to myself that everyone should have a mentor in the same way. If I look back at my own personal growth, the times my growth has accelerated the most, were when I had some type of mentor.
However, not every mentor is the same. Some mentors had a minimal impact on me and some could be considered the Michael Angelo of my life, shaping me into the Statue of David I am today (just a little less naked).
You NEED to be able to tell GREAT MENTORS from poor ones. Here are three of the BEST qualities I have observed in my great mentors:
A Great Mentor Thinks Differently Than You
I am not made like any of those I have seen. I venture to believe that I am not made like any of those who are in existence. If I am not better, at least I am different. -Jean-Jacques Rousseau
The world is huge with over 7 billion people on the planet, most of who have no idea you even exist other than your abstract contribution to your countries population.
Every single person on the planet is unique, but there are objective observations used to categorize people.
For instance there are four different types of communicators (kinesthetic, auditory, visual, and digital) and three types of thought processes (physical, emotional, and mental). Everyone is strongest in one type of communication (I’m dominant in kinesthetic) and dominant in one sequential thought process (naturally I am emotional than physical than mental). Everyone varies how he or she distributes his or her strengths, and no one is 100% one type or sequence.
What kind of communicator are you? What is your sequential thought process?
There is never a “right” way to do something only an arguably appropriate means to a task. Everyone has a different way of approaching problems or communicating them.
The trick to discovering a great mentor is finding one that fits you; someone who has a different thought process but has similar values. The different thought process allows you to contrast your own decision-making or problem-solving ability, while the common ground of values acts as a bridge to connect their perspective to yours.
In simple terms, when you talk to your mentor you should feel that they “get it.”
This will allow you to feel comfortable talking to them and understand their perspective even when you disagree with what they are saying.
A great mentor thinks differently than you so you may leverage their experiences and strengths to improve the things you could not do on your own, independently.
A Great Mentor Never Gives You The Answer
Live to learn and you will really learn to live.
– John C. Maxwell
Two years ago I found myself on a spiritual mission. I was looking for reasons to justify my beliefs in spirituality and in metaphysics, and mainly focused on Eastern Philosophies of oneness and enlightenment. Statements like “we are all connected” or “everything happens for a reason” or “happiness exists only in the present moment” all made so much sense.
I tried repeatedly to fit the literal meaning of these spiritual principles into my life. They were all close but none seemed to fit into my life without disturbing the balance of everything else. It was like trying to put on a pair of shoes you want to buy that doesn’t quite fit, and then trying to run in them.
Consulting my mentors at the time, I came with a bucket load of questions. Over and over I tried to pull the answers out of them but never received a straight answer. I felt like they were avoiding the questions.
Finally after much internal debate I understood the lesson I needed to learn: It was me that had to decide what beliefs serve me and what beliefs don’t – nobody else can decide for me. There is a point when your parents stop helping you find a pair of shoes that fit. You reach a point of maturity that allows you to find and buy your own shoes, independent of your parents. If you buy a pair that hurts, you learn and next time you fit them properly.
If my mentors had just told me the answers, they would be giving me their subjective opinion and I would never develop an opinion of my own. Developing my own opinion has contributed immensely to my confidence.
I truly feel I have a wealth of wisdom and knowledge to offer other people. The things I am strongest in aren’t the morals I’ve been told, but rather the lessons I have learned through my own experiences.
A great mentor never gives you the answer because you get so much more confidence and knowledge by learning it for yourself, BUT, a mentor is invaluable in guiding you towards that answer. A great mentor will cut years off your learning curve.
A Great Mentor Should Challenge Your Beliefs
What we believe is heavily influenced by what we think others believe.
– Thomas Gilovich
A confrontation between two people signifies two separate belief systems not meshing appropriately. Each person feels they have the right perspective and wishes to argue their validity through either a verbal or physical means.
The problem with most people is that they are afraid of being wrong or have an irrational fear of physical confrontation. The real reason is they cannot accept the idea that someone else may have a better perspective or a better understanding then they themselves. People therefore behave in a way that usually avoids conflict and confrontation not because of effectiveness with others but the FEAR of another’s opinion.
Always remember: Champions embrace conflict. Tweet
My great mentors have never shied away from challenging my opinion or beliefs. They don’t let me get away with inconsistencies in my arguments or incongruence in my behavior. It takes a more experienced person who is solid in their belief system to not back down when there is a discrepancy between your argument and theirs.
Your beliefs are always in an ever-changing state. You never stop growing as a person just the same as you never stop employing and releasing beliefs. If your mentor does not challenge your beliefs than you will never be able to employee new ones that may serve you better than your current.
Because of the high degree of vulnerability around beliefs your mentor has to have the BALLS to look you in the eyes and ask you WHY you believe what you believe. The only way you can argue your beliefs is by thinking for yourself. People who cannot articulate the reasoning behind their beliefs tend to be more prone to insecurities and ineffectiveness with other people in their life.
By challenging your beliefs your mentor forces you to develop means to communicate what you believe and why. A great mentor will always question your beliefs because like a muscle, your confidence, communication, and effectiveness with others can be exercised and improved.
Your mentor will always be someone who you can connect with. They “get it.”
Great mentors understand how their belief system grew from the lessons they learned from the things they experienced. By NOT giving you the answer, they offer you the same opportunity. The lessons you learn from those experiences should be challenged objectively, to display how appropriate your beliefs are.
That’s why mentors that “get it” AND think differently are such a powerful influence in your life.
- Look for someone that you connect with that has achieved a higher level of success in an important area of your life.
- Look for someone who “get’s it,” understands your values, and can relate.
- Look for someone that is not scared to ask the big questions that need discussing; someone with balls.
- Look for someone who has or is being successfully mentored. This means that they will know the value of mentorship.
True education does not consist merely in the acquiring of a few facts of science, history literature, or art, but in the development of character. – David O. McKay
Where do you go from here?
Do you currently have a mentor? If you do, what are the biggest things you’ve learned from them so far? Tell me in the comment section below!
If you don’t, consider applying to our mentorship program. Mentors cut YEARS off your learning curve, help you expand your perspective and take away the frustration of having to learn on your own.
Having a mentor is a NO-BRAINER. The best way to get someone to mentor you is to ask. Although applications to our program are closing soon, if you’re really serious about taking your life to the next level, let us know!