We hear a lot about the importance of having a mentor to guide us on our entrepreneurial journey and without a doubt, I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't had some very impressive mentors supporting me along the way. I've learned a lot, been guided through challenging periods in my life and in my business and been able to avoid some horrendous mistakes as a result of their advice.
I've also had the pleasure of being on the other side, where I've mentored others. Some of these have been done commercially, in more of a coaching role. Others were free, done out of a desire to give back and to help the individual to achieve their goals and dreams.
If I put my hand on my heart I can honestly say I've learned more from the people I mentor, than I've learned from the people who have mentored me. And I'm saying that with absolute respect for those people who have taken me under their wing over the years and shared their wisdom and knowledge.
The reason I know that this is true, is because the people who mentored me have said exactly the same thing. They got more out of mentoring of others than they got out of being mentored themselves.
There is something about discussing another person's business issues and looking at them with fresh eyes and without the emotional attachment that comes when the problems are yours. You realize you have experience and that you've solved problems for yourself in the past. And often, you hear the words coming out of your mouth that sound wise and practical and realize that this is exactly the advice you need to hear for yourself right now. Sometimes it a little freaky how it work.
In fact I always allow 30 minutes after a mentoring session to sit and think about what I've learned and the list has grown very long over the years. Some of my best business ideas have come about as a result of session where I am mentoring someone and giving them advice about their business.
My advice is simple and to the point. Be open to the idea of taking on someone who wants to be mentored. They are never far away, often they are already in your sphere of influence and dropping hints or even directly asking you to help them. You don't need grey hair and wrinkles to be a mentor, it's about experience, it's about wisdom, it's about sharing what you've learned and what you've been successful at.
Now I'm sure you are asking yourself "who has the time?" I understand that you are crazy busy, with barely enough time to manage your own life let alone take on the responsibility of mentoring someone. I promise that it will be worth it, with what you will learn about yourself when you are in the mentoring role. You just have to make sure you set some boundaries, be clear about what you will do and what you won't do so it doesn't get out of control.
As a mentor your job is not to micro manage your "mentoree". It's not to talk five times a day. It certainly isn't to step in and solve their problems or take over. Your job is to allocate some time every month to talk to them. To lead them to a solution to their problems based on your experience. Or perhaps to help them take advantage of an opportunity, once again, based on your experience. You are not there to do it for them.
Another interesting option is to develop a co-mentoring relationship. I've seen this work really well between a younger more tech savvy person and an older, more tech phobic person. The old person shares their knowledge and experience about doing business and the younger person teaches their older co-mentor how to do things like use Instagram. These relationships can be hugely rewarding and a lot of fun.
Whatever direction you take, if you want to grow as person and as an entrepreneur, commit to finding someone to mentor, treat this commitment seriously, set very specific boundaries and be open to learning a great deal about yourself.