Have you ever wished you had a mentor? What is a mentor, even? Is a mentor a coach? A guide? A leader? Do we need one to succeed? And how can we go about finding the right one for us?
Mentors are essential to success; without them, it is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to be successful. In this article I argue that you need to be your own mentor. This isn’t as difficult nor as crazy as it sounds. How do you become your own mentor? Easy. By reading.
First Up, What Is A Mentor And Why Are They Necessary For Success?
A mentor is a person who is more experienced or knowledgeable than us who agrees to guide us to success in whatever process which befits the mentor’s experience. A mentor can mentor you in any field, be it business, parenting, learning, investing, fitness, spirituality, cooking and even cleaning. Any field of human accomplishment has its mentors.
Mentors are people who have established track records of success in their chosen field. When choosing a mentor it’s important that you ask yourself the following questions:
- Does this person embody the type of success I aspire to?
- Would I feel comfortable learning from this person?
- How does this person live their life? Is it a life which I could model mine after?
- Is this person for real?
While all of these questions are important, it’s the last one which is the most basic one. Is the mentor you are considering to learn from legitimate? Has this person achieved genuine success in their field? You wouldn’t go to someone who is bankrupt for advice on how to manage money, for example.
These days it’s very easy to find and research people who claim to be mentors. The internet has made everything searchable, as long as you do your due diligence and carefully research an individual purporting to be a mentor, you can profit from the experience.
A mentor’s guidance is crucial for success. Most, if not all, of the most successful people in history, the people who’s books we read, products we use, art we admire, music we listen to and shows/movies we watch, had mentors.
Consider one of the most ancient and well-known of mentoring relationships; Socrates and Plato. Both of these people lived and died over 2400 years ago, yet their ideas and works continue to provoke vibrant discussions and facilitate learning. Socrates’ method of teaching, based on cooperative argumentative dialogue, remains the standard of teaching in law school. Plato’s allegory of the cave encourages us to consider the possibility that everything we perceive may be a dim projection of a deeper, more fundamental plane of reality.
As if this weren’t enough to prove the transformative power of mentorship; Plato himself then mentored Aritstotle. Admittedly, Aristotle was way off the mark on many things, like the idea that rocks fell towards the earth because they “wanted” to return to their source, but many of them were great, like logic. Yes, Aristotle is the first person credited with the formal study of logic. Big stuff.
Just like these transcendental, ancient mentoring relationships, there are contemporary ones; Gopal Krishna Gokal mentored Mahatma Gandhi on the issues faced by common Indians; Christian Dior mentored Yves Saint-Laurent on how to run a company. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic, was mentored by Sir Freddie Laker. Branson has gone as far to say that he wouldn’t have gotten anywhere in the airline industry without the mentorship of Sir Freddie Laker.
Then there are the fictitious mentor-mentee relationships (a “mentee” is a person who is mentored): Dumbledore and Harry Potter, Yoda and Luke Skywalker, Gandalf and Frodo, Mr. Miyagi and Daniel-san. Can you imagine any of these heroes succeeding in their missions to save the world, or defeat the Cobra Kai hoodlums, without the guidance of a mentor? I can’t.
Mentors are essential to success because they walk the path of success. And if we want to walk the path of success we need to think the thoughts, speak the words and walk the walk of success. In other words, we need to imitate someone who is successful in order to be successful.
One of the best ways humans learn, if not the best way, is by imitating. Looks at young children and you will see them watching the adults around them with intense focus; this is how children learn to navigate the intricacies of their environment. If a child doesn’t have a human to imitate they don’t learn what they need to in order to thrive; How do we engage with other people in a positive, constructive way? How do we speak a language? How do we tie your shoes? Children mostly learn all of these things simply by observing and imitating the adults surrounding them.
Mentors play the same role as parents play with young children, but in a more directed fashion. You have a mentor because you want to learn a specific skill or trait. Whether it’s running a successful company or making sublime music, an effective mentor can guide you to be the best you can be.
So if mentors are so awesome, then how come so few of us have them? I’m getting to that now.
Why Do So Few People Have Mentors?
I believe the reason so few people have effective mentors is that most of us remain at the same level of mediocrity throughout our entire lives. Sound harsh? Think about it. If a person is always surrounded by people who have achieved similarly average success in life; in health, community, athleticism, business, wealth, spirituality, etc, How will that person ever be able to know that being extraordinary is an option? We all have the potential to be extraordinary, so then how come so few of us actualize our promise?
Most of us are exposed to the same stimuli in life; we go to the same schools to be conditioned to be employees, we eat the same fatty, sugar-filled foods, we watch the same mind-numbing television shows, we take the same drugs, with little variance between. Unless we choose otherwise, our civilization herds us into a state of mediocre complacency. If most people around us are living unsatisfying, rushed, boring lives, How can we ever know living an extraordinary life is an option?
In other words, the people who are extraordinary usually don’t hang out with people who are mediocre.
This puts us mediocre people in a pickle. If we need to be close to extraordinary people to become extraordinary, but we’re mediocre, How can we even start? You can pay people to be your mentor, but the best mentors are pricey. I’ve seen renowned mentors offer their starting services for more than 40,000 dolars. What if you’re broke? Or so depressed or socially anxious you can’t hold a regular job to make the money to pay a mentor? It all appears to be a Catch-22 situation; we need the something to have the thing, but we need the thing to have the something.
Only it isn’t like that. We have an abundance of options when it comes to mentors.
And they’re called books.
Books Are The Best Mentors
I know this through personal experience. You can read about the power of reading books here. Books are the best mentors for a few reasons:
- They’re inexpensive
- They’re always available
- They’re infinitely patient
I’m a fan of physical books. I enjoy feeling the weight of them in my hands as I read. There are studies which prove that reading from physical books aids in retention. It’s something having to do with holding the physical information in your hands and being able to leaf through it at your leisure; it helps the mind absorb it. We’re tactile beings, after all.
Mass printed, physical books can cost between 4 dollars for used copies up to around 40 dollars for thick, hardcover ones. You can get some amazing, life-changing books for a little over five dollars (Think And Grow Rich, for one). But if you still don’t have enough money to pay for physical books, e-books are a cheaper alternative. And they’re easier to acquire, all you do is buy them through the internet, download them unto a device and you’re off to the races!
And if you still don’t have enough money for e-books, then well-stocked libraries exist in much of the rich world where you can borrow some amazing books at no cost at all to you! If you follow the guidelines set by the library and return books on time.
Compare the inexpensiveness of books to the 40,000 dollars it can cost to work with a premium financial mentor. I’ve learned through personal experience that the best mentors, who fetch the highest prices, also write the best books. Robert Kiyosaki, a super successful investor, wrote “Rich Dad Poor Dad”, Robin Sharma a leadership expert, wrote “The 5 AM Club”, Jen Sincero, a success coach, wrote “You Are A Badass”, DC Gonzales, a performance coach, wrote “The Art Of Mental Training”. In these books are contained the lessons, wisdom and techniques implemented by these authors to achieve their extraordinary results; made freely available to anyone who is willing to read!
In other words, in a 20 dollar book you can find pretty much the same material as what is covered in a 40,000 dollar mentorship program. I’ve personally confirmed this.
As far as I can see, the biggest difference between a 40,000 dollar mentorship program and a 20 dollar book is the level of commitment a mentee is willing to take on. A person is more likely to be motivated to listen and learn after ponying up 40,000 dollars for a mentorship program than they are after paying 20 dollars for a book. My guess is that books are so inexpensive and widely available that people discount their value.
But make no mistake, books open world to us. And they are infinitely patient in doing so.
A book won’t become exasperated when you fail to understand something; it won’t run out of time; it won’t misspeak. A book will go anywhere you go; it will function anywhere (except underwater, in a hail storm or in the caldera of an active volcano); it won’t become distracted and it will repeat itself endlessly until you understand what you want to understand.
Books are the best mentors.
If you’re financially, spiritually, emotionally or physically broke, books can offer you a stepping stone to better. If we approach a book with a true desire to learn and improve upon yourself, it can release the logjam of our life and allow our greatness to flow. I know this because I’ve lived it. Books saved me from myself. But they only did so after I admitted I needed saving. Opening a book is admitting ignorance, which is the first step in learning.
On top of this, even if you’re already living your best life, books can make your best life even better. That’s how infinitely versatile they are.
Books Can Guide Us To Where We Want To Be, If We Let Them.
I hope you’ve found this article inspiring and that it motivated you to pick up a book and read. For any challenge you’re facing, any goal you’re striving for or any work you’re creating, there is a book out there which can help you on your way.
So admit ignorance and pick up a book! They’re the best mentors we have.
To our wealth and success.