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How to Get Your Dream Mentor in Seven Easy Steps

How to Get Your Dream Mentor in Seven Easy Steps

A mentor is the quickest path to success in whatever you want to achieve. The joy of a mentor is that they’re someone who has already been there–they know the tricks of the trade, and who you need to connect with in order to succeed. They also know the life lessons you’ll need to have in order to make it, and have a better sense of just how hard it is.

But how do you get a mentor?

There are two huge misconceptions with mentorship:

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  1. That it has to be a rigid formal relationship, almost like an apprenticeship from hundreds of years ago
  2. That you have to know the person already

In fact, you don’t need to know someone or even have a relationship with them to make them your mentor, and it doesn’t need to be a formal structured relationship. You can get much of the mentorship experience simply by studying the lives of people you want to be like.

Find someone, learn their history, and start using them as your life mentor in 7 easy steps:

1. Pick your target

Before you can get started, you need someone you want to mentor you. Naturally you don’t want to pick just anyone–your mentor should be someone who really inspires you to be the best that you can be.

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Try to find people who have been very successful in the field that you’re interested in, and who aren’t averse to the public eye. For this “remote-mentorship” system to work, you need to be able to find out a lot about them.

They don’t necessarily need to be alive though–there are a lot of successful people from history who you can use as mentors that have very well documented histories. Benjamin Franklin, for example, has his own autobiography as well as multiply biographies written by others.

2. Find all of their personal work

Next you need to find as much as you possibly can of their original works. Have they written books? Gone on interviews? Do they have a blog or Twitter? Find as much of it as possible. Their blog and social media will give you snippets of their thoughts. Their books will give you deeper insights into their stances on things, and hopefully deeper insights into their lives. The interviews will help supplement some of the questions you wish you could ask but can’t yet, and you’ll get to see them interacting with another person as opposed to just throwing their thoughts out in the ether. 

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3. Find other people’s work about them

If they’ve been successful, then other people are talking about them as well. Try to find news articles, books, blog posts, and other commentary on things that they’ve done. It’s useful to see an outsiders perspective on how people were successful, and they might bring in insights that the mentor themselves never realized. This is also a great way to find other possible mentors–it’s likely that if someone wrote about your mentor, they also wrote about other similar people who you might be interested in learning more about.

4. Take careful notes

Once you’ve read through everything once, go back through it and try to figure out the big turning points in their life, big lessons, what makes up their philosophy today, how they view the world. Look for patterns, look for major life experiences, and look for things that they talk about a lot. If they make a habit to repeat the same quote over and over again, that’s a sign it’s really important to them. Or if they mention another author, philosopher, politician, a lot it’s a sign that you might be interested in that personas well.

5. Compare it to where you are now

Don’t get demotivated by how successful they are! They started somewhere too, and at one point they were at the same level you are now. Dig through their life until you find when they were roughly where you are now. What was their next step? What did they go out and learn? What did they experience? Who did they talk to? Instead of looking just at where they are now, focus on where they were and how that compares to your current situation.

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6. Replicate some of their big life experiences

Now that you know when they were at the same level you are now, you can start to look for the big things that helped them get to that next step. Maybe they went on a complete isolation camping trip for a week, maybe they tried starting a company and it failed, maybe they read a few select books. Figure out what their big turning points were and then recreate them for yourself. Some of this might be a little scary, but that’s alright. Doing the things you’re afraid of is part of how you can learn the most.

7. Keep the wheel turning

As you go through this process, keep repeating it as you get closer to your goals. Keep absorbing information about them, and keep working yourself towards their success. Don’t become a carbon copy, but absorb the important lessons as if they were there coaching you the whole way. You’ll have gotten all of the benefits of a mentor, without having them formally be there to tell you what to do.

More by this author

Nat Eliason

Nat is the founder of the marketing agency Growth Machine. He shares lifetyle tips on Lifehack.

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Published on January 7, 2021

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

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  1. Respect deadlines
  2. Understand the work-flow plan
  3. Build in time to mess up

1. Respect Deadlines

Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

3. Build in Time to Mess Up

You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

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Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

1. Learn to Listen Well

You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

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3. Follow Rules

Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

4. Take Notes

Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

9. Minimize Distractions

It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

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If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

10. Take Breaks

It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

11. Make Time for Reflection

At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

Final Thoughts

Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

Reference

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