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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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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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