Leadership Series: Mentors

Posted on Jul 25, 2016 in Entrepreneur, Inspiration, Small Business, Small Business Tips and Tricks Series, Success, Tips for Entrepreneurs | Comments Off on Leadership Series: Mentors

Leadership Series: Mentors


Behind every successful leader is a great mentor. Think about it—Bruce Wayne (Batman) had Alfred, Luke Skywalker had Obi-Wan Kenobi (who had Qui-Gon, who had Count Dooku, who had Yoda…sorry, nerded out there…), Martin Luther King Jr. had Benjamin Mays, Warren Buffett had Benjamin Graham and Shaquille O’Neil had John Brown.

Do you have mentors?

That’s what we’ll discuss in the section of our Leadership Series—the how and why of acquiring and learning from different mentors. This content is inspired by a recent issue of Success magazine.

First off, there is a difference between a role model and a mentor. A role model is someone that you can look to and ask, “What would insert someone’s name here do in this situation.” And a mentor is someone that conveys knowledge and perhaps more importantly wisdom, to you as a seasoned expert in a particular area.

Let’s talk about role models first.

Darren Hardy, former publisher of Success, suggests that we create a list of our role models in each of the eight areas of life. These are:

  • Family
  • Relationship
  • Spiritual
  • Health
  • Business
  • Financial
  • Mental
  • Lifestyle

Now, these role models don’t have to be perfect in all aspects of each of the eight areas, but they should be stellar in at least one. For example, I might choose a former professor as my mental role model and think of what he would suggest doing when it comes to keeping my mind healthy and active. What kind of books would he read? How does he stay sharp?

Mentors, on the other hand, serve a more intense training purpose. And these should come in four main groups:

  • Inner circle – These are people that you work with personally and have a vested interest in your success. They know your industry or function well and can give great insight from within. However, they may be guarded because the way you think of them may impact their careers. That’s why we need the next group.
  • Outer circle – These are mentors that have a total outsider perspective and they know their candid and honest feedback won’t come back to haunt them. They can be highly valuable for telling you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.
  • Seasonal mentor – This mentor is an expert in the particular stage of life you’re facing currently. This could be a financial expert while you’re trying to tackle large amounts of debt or a successful founder of multiple companies as you launch your new venture, etc.
  • Skills mentor – This person is in place to help you develop the particular skill that you’re working to develop at the moment. Darren Hardy recommends that you tackle hard one particular skill for a full quarter.

It’s important to note that these last two groups of mentors, the season and skills coaches, don’t need to be people you know personally. They could be mentoring you through books you read, videos you watch, seminars you attend and so on. Some of life’s greatest lessons can be learned from people that have passed on ten, twenty, a hundred or even a thousand years ago. In the information age, we have access to the minds and experience of incredible mentors!

With these four groups in place, you’re sure to have a strong group of guides to help you weather the seasons of life and continue to grow in the future.

As John Maxwell put it:

“One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.”

So go out and find your Gandalf, Coach K or Shrimad Rajchandra (Ghandi’s spiritual mentor), and never forget that:

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” — Winston Churchill

Be sure to be the mentor you once had!