I don’t have one, but sure wish I did. Many times in my life, I’ve wanted a mentor – someone I could talk to about my career, life, key decisions, and all the stuff in life that can use the soothing wisdom that only rich life experience can provide.
Many people have played mentor-like roles in my life: my wife, friends and colleagues, and a few consultants. Their perspectives have always been helpful, but the dynamics in many of those relationships have been more like sounding boards. I’ve never had a mentor in the true sense.
Maybe some of the reasons I never had an actual mentor are that I didn’t know where to look or how to find one, also I lacked the wisdom to really appreciate and understand the benefits. It is clear to me now that I missed out, so I’ve decided to try a different tack.
Three untraditional strategies to finding a perfect mentor:
First, I am building my network of business people who have deep experience in various industries. I ask them to evaluate my strategies and ideas and to offer their input on opportunities and roadblocks and what they see in the future. It’s a funny thing – most are thrilled just to share their experiences and watch as I progress. As one of the guys said to me today, “It is fun for me to grab you by the scruff of the neck, show you what to do, but you have to go do it.”
Second, I am embracing the openness and transparency that these types of relationships require. It takes some practice but the quicker I have gotten “real” with my issues the better the conversations have become.
Third, I am processing the idea of building out an advisory board with a few of these key individuals. There are other approaches like YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization) and Vistage that can provide important support in similar ways, but the idea of a personal advisory board seems to make sense to me right now.
In time, I believe a few of these relationships could turn into mentorships, and that would be just fine with me.
Have you found a mentor that already existed in your own network?