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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

Writer and Host of Nat Chat

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

1. Define Career Success for Yourself

Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

What does career success mean to you?

This is about defining your career success:

  • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
  • Not what people may think of you
  • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
  • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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  • Work-life balance
  • Opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

  • What do you mean by work-life balance?
  • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
  • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

  • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
  • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
  • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

  • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
  • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
  • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

2. Know Your Values

Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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  • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
  • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
  • Put the words on your fridge
  • Add the words on your vision board

Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

  • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
  • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
  • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
  • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
  • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
  • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

  • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
  • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
  • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
  • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

4. Determine Your Top Talents

What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

What do you notice?

5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

Keep these words visible too!

Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

7. Manage Your Own Career

Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

Summing Up

For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

  1. Define Career Success for Yourself
  2. Know Your Values
  3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
  4. Determine Your Top Talents
  5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
  6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
  7. Manage Your Own Career

“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

Good luck and best wishes always!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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