There are tremendous benefits to stepping out of our subjective perspective and seeing how our world looks through objective eyes. There are also tremendous fears of accepting an uncomfortable new perspective. This is how growth happens!
Today I’d like to ask you a very simple question, do you have a mentor? And I’m asking this question because I’d like to discuss with you why it is so vitally important for every single person to have a mentor, the same way so many people hire coaches in areas that they want to improve or excel, and what the challenges are in sticking with a mentor and how to understand where those challenges are coming from so we can overcome those challenges and stick with a mentor so we can reap the enormous benefits that every single one of us will get when we have a mentor or mentors.
The very first immediate benefit of having a mentor is that you’re having a voice in your life which comes from outside of you. We see ourselves subjectively. Every perspective that I have about the whys, the whats in my life, I always question. Because I’ve learned repeatedly that there are very often underlying reasons and desires which I am not ready to acknowledge consciously which are driving my perspective of something. And the moment I speak to someone outside of me, I suddenly hear an objective viewpoint because they don’t have all of the inner conflicts or issues I may bring to the table regarding or in relationship with different things. So there’s objectivity the moment you go outside of yourself, which is enormously valuable because it frees you up from so much of the noise or the disturbance or the confusion that lies within us.
And the only question that we need to ask ourselves is, are we willing to hear the reality as it is or is that too terrifying for us to hear the way things are objectively and our insistence to continue seeing it the way we see it because that makes us comfortable. The moment we are ready to step outside of ourselves we are already at a huge advantage to hear what someone else sees objectively and to be able to accept that even though our reality may tell us something a little bit different. There’s something else which is very valuable, in that when we go to someone else ‑‑ and, obviously, when we’re choosing a mentor, we’re not just choosing anyone, but we’re choosing someone who we look up to, who we feel has a level of wisdom, of understanding and of experience. The most valuable wisdom that there might be is the wisdom of experience. That means someone who has ‑‑ is intelligent and from their experiences learns so much about life. As wise as someone may be, without going through different experiences we do not have deep wisdom. Experience is what takes our wisdom and entrenches it deeply into reality.
And so when we have ‑‑ we speak to someone who has experience, they can actually help us leap way beyond where we would be able to go on our own because we don’t have that experience. And we can literally save ourselves years of trial and error when we speak to someone who has experience.
So the value of going to a mentor is simply speaking to someone with experience. And then, of course, there is the depth of understanding that people have in certain areas or in many areas which we don’t have. So we look at someone, we look at the way they live their life, we look at the values they have, we look at the decisions that they make, and we say, this is the type of person that I look up to, that I would like to be more like. And we want to go to such a person and we want to ask them their opinion about many different things that we’re already doing or decisions that we need to make.
So why is there so much resistance to getting a mentor? The first reason why is, it’s terrifying to trust, to let go of control, to do what someone else is telling you to do. We can always ask, how do you know, how can I be 100 percent sure, and that’s the reason why this is all about trust. It’s about letting go, it’s about saying, I am going to trust this. I am going to listen. I assessed this person, I believe that they have value, that they have quality, that they have depth, they have insight. The way they live their life, I see that this is something I look up to. I’m going to trust them even though so much of my subjectivity is going to resist what they’re going to say. And we even test the person. Not that we’re really testing them, but we’re really just giving ourselves the ability to trust them. And we can call it testing them, but, generally speaking, the results are going to demonstrate for themselves the value of putting trust in a mentor.
It’s so vitally important for anyone who wants to expand in life, who wants to grow, who wants to discover more truths about themselves to have a mentor. And as important as it is, that’s how difficult it is.
There are two primary challenges that come up when we try to find a mentor. One is that we discover that people who we want as a mentor don’t really have a lot of time. They’re very busy people. They are very ‑‑ they have many people who are reaching out to them already. And when we initially reach out to them, it’s very difficult to get their attention. What we need to know is, that if we truly want someone to be a mentor, we have to repeatedly reach out to them. We have to show them that we really want their mentorship. And one of the ways to do that is by consistently reaching out to the other person and showing them that we really want their advice, we really want their guidance, we really want their leadership. Not in a way that is oppressive to the other person, but in a way that shows them our earnestness in our reaching out to them. So we’re not just a drop‑by person who is asking them a question. And the way they know we’re not a drop‑by person is by the fact that we come back again when they say, I don’t have time today. And we will come back again and come back again until they see we are committed to them. If we want someone to be committed to us, we have to show commitment to them. So the fact that they don’t have time is only a temporary thing. The moment you show them that you are truly valuing them, they will make the time for you.
There’s another great challenge in taking on a mentor and that is that as we begin to speak to someone about the more serious and deeper aspects of life, we get to know the other person better. And sometimes we get to know them differently than the way we knew them. And the moment that happens very often we say, oh, this is not the right type of person to be my mentor. Now, I want to say that sometimes that may be the case, you may find another side to this person and they are not the mentor, the person meant to be your mentor; however, most often that just becomes the newest excuse why not to commit to what they are going to tell you, what they’re advising you. It’s our discomfort that is usually leading us away from another person, we just found a better excuse. And that’s the reason why the best way to work with a mentor is to commit for a certain amount of time to work with this other person, to seek out the guidance of this other person. Let’s say it’s going to be over six months or over a year and you commit to seeking out the guidance from this, that you need through the next six months or over the next year from this person and that you’re going to follow through with what they recommend to you. And the reason why this is important is because very often we will discover that we think we know everything, we think we understand everything and we are still assessing whether their advice is the right advice. As long as we’re still assessing whether their advice is the right advice, we’re holding the ropes over here. What we need to do, once we determine that this person is a trustworthy person, once we determine that this person is a worthwhile mentor, we have to let go and we have to see what the results are after six months or after a year. Because that is how real growth happens. We need to make a commitment to the other person that we really want their mentorship. We need to make a commitment to the other person that we are going to listen to what they’re saying, we’re not just coming to hear some advice that we will consider. Because that’s how we lose mentors as well. They’re not interested in just giving ideas that you are going to consider. They really don’t have time for that. And that’s the reason why when we work with a coach, we have to ask ‑‑ or a mentor ‑‑ we have to ask ourselves, and we have to realize that the responsibility is on us, not on them. We’re not going to them as a quick fix, we’re going to them with a commitment. And the commitment is to hearing what they’re saying and to following through. The most disappointing thing for a mentor is when you ask them advice and you don’t follow through.
So we need to learn how to be a good mentee, if there’s such a word, to ‑‑ how to be able to be mentored by a mentor. Let’s commit ourselves to a certain amount of time of following through with the advice the person gives us and see where that takes us. And nine out of ten times you will discover that your life is far more expansive now that you’ve committed to listening to this person who you have chosen to be your mentor.