For many individuals the chances of finding a mentor are slim because their definition of mentorship is too narrow, says Michael Hyatt, the founder and CEO of Michael Hyatt & Company, a leadership development firm.
Finding the right mentor
"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),” he says.
So, what do you do if you are trying to find a mentor?
Hyatt suggests you broaden your definition of mentoring, so you do not get stuck waiting for something that might not happen.
Six levels of mentoring
Hyatt says the truth is you can be mentored now if you understand the six levels of mentoring:
- Blogs and podcasts. If you could wave a magic wand and be mentored by anyone, who would it be? Chances are the person you are considering may have a blog or podcast and is already churning out tons of content, for free. Are you taking advantage of it?
- Books. There is no greater value than a relevant, well-written book. 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 do not have the money to buy a book, go to the library.
- Conferences. Conferences provide an opportunity for total immersion, focused learning, and interaction with other like-minded individuals. It occasionally provides direct access to the mentor(s). Make it a priority to attend three to four conferences a year.
- Membership sites. Join industry relevant blogs, newsletters and subscribe to magazines. 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. There could a monthly fee attached, but it could be nominal and enable you to engage in high-quality content.
- Coaches. If you are willing to pay for a mentor, a coach is a great option. While you may think you cannot afford one, investigate it before dismissing it. If a coach helps you seize one opportunity, optimise your productivity, or avoid one fatal mistake, it will pay for itself many times over.
- Mentors. Though a true mentor may be difficult to find, it is not impossible. If you have one in mind, start by building the relationship, just like you would anyone else. Hyatt suggests you don’t lead with “Will you be my mentor?” That is 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.
Expand your horizons
“Until you have taken advantage of the lower mentoring levels, you probably will not gain access to the higher ones. Even if you do eventually find a mentor, you are cheating yourself by not doing what you can now to learn and grow,” says Hyatt.
“Instead of focusing on what you do not 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,” concludes Hyatt.