I was sitting at my laptop late last night, staring blankly at the screen as the cursor blinked back at me. I’d been here before—sitting with a challenge in front of me without knowing how to even approach getting started.
Maybe you’ve been here before too. I hope you have, because it’s one of the best ways to learn. It’s times like these that remind me why it’s important to frequently rely on others for help. Are you realizing the benefits of building relationships with the right mentors?
The Benefits of Mentorship
That big roadblock you’re facing? Someone has been there before. And that means they have something that could be extremely valuable to you.
It doesn’t matter how challenging or unique your problem feels. If you talk to enough people, I can almost guarantee that you will find someone who can tell you how they tackled that same issue or at least make your problem feel a little smaller. To get this benefit, you have to be open and willing to share a bit of the things that make you uncomfortable and vulnerable. That can be tough, but it’s worth it.
I know you’re smart as hell, but sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. Give yourself a gut check and find someone who has seen more of the field.
The great thing about mentors with perspective is that their unique experiences have equipped them with tools you don’t yet have. But, just like borrowing a tool from your neighbor, you have to be willing to ask.
You’re really good as some things. But we all could benefit from filling in some of the gaps with outside insight.
If you’re an enterprising individual (which you probably are, since you’re reading this blog), you’ve fallen on your face more than a few times. The great this is that there are others who have gone before us who have already bloodied their noses with similar face plants. Give yourself the opportunity to learn from those mistakes by watching, reading and listening. Even if you still fail, you’ll fast-track your learning process by giving yourself context to help process what happened.
Someone out there is better than you at what you do (or at least perceived that way). Borrow a little brand equity in a way that makes you both look good.
Your customers, investors, and partners size you up before they do business with you. Do yourself a favor and use social proof to help legitimize your position. By surrounding yourself with experienced mentors—whether that’s casually or on a formal board—you not only reassure outsiders, but also reinforce to yourself that your logic is sound.
Learn by example.
Learn by proximity. We humans are adaptive creatures and have some built-in tools that can benefit us greatly if we know how to use them right.
I’m no scientist, but I do remember from basic psychology that our brains are equipped with what are called “mirror neurons.” These neurons fire when we act and observe the act performed by another person. Basically, it causes a logical and emotional response that mimics what we see in others. By spending more time with people who have skills and ability you want to acquire, you’re allowing more neural firings to occur, which strengthens your neural pathways. In short, you learn more.
Here’s your assignment (do this now):
- What are the top 3 hurdles you’re currently facing in your business?
- For each of your hurdles, write down 3 names of people who may have faced similar challenges in the past (hint: you should now have 9 names total).
- Pick one of these names right now and send them a short email asking their advice on a specific subject. They should be able to answer in a sentence or two.
I challenge you (and myself) to be a little more intentional about who you attract as friends and mentors. Because, now is the time to build your support team. And as the famous author and entrepreneur Jim Rohn put it, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”