What does the idea of a “mentor” mean to you?
Does the word conjure up the image of a specific person who takes you under his wing and guides you every step of the way? If you imagine yourself in this relationship, would you be happy? Do you really want someone telling you what to think, do, and say?
To achieve greatness, you need to have the tenacity, talent, and drive to accelerate forward. While no one else can make you great, a mentor can help to smooth the road ahead.
Why is the word “mentor” in quotation marks?
When I talk about a “mentor,” I’m actually using the word in the plural form as a selection of people to whom you look for guidance. Don’t try to mimic or be someone else. Look for certain traits in people whom you admire and imitate the traits, but don’t become an exact copy of them. Feel free to adopt their better features and add them to your unique personality and character.
The truth about mentors
Having met thousands of people throughout my career, I can assure you that even the finest people have aspects they could improve. That doesn’t disqualify them from being good mentors. You just need to choose the specific traits that you want to emulate from another person, rather than trying to become a carbon copy.
The secret way to work with mentors
Believe it or not, you do not even need to meet your mentors, and they do not even need to know that you are their mentee. If you want Warren Buffett to be your mentor in financial world or Susan Polgar to be your mentor in chess world, for example, all you need to do is follow their writings, blogs, and Twitter accounts.
There are great people everywhere who generously share their wisdom with anyone willing to read or listen to their thoughts. Read the biographies and personal stories of those from whom you would like to learn. Even if you never get to meet them, they can become your mentors. You just need to read what they write, or read what others write about them. Always keep in mind – leaders are readers!
Becoming a world champion requires mentors
When I started working with Susan Polgar on our book, Rich As A King: How the Wisdom of Chess Can Make You a Grandmaster of Investing, I asked her why she needed coaches when she was playing in the competitive chess circuits. She explained that coaches, like mentors, helped players view the board differently. A player might be a fast thinker and a brave fighter, but a coach could bring a different outlook to the board, asking good questions and advising on different strategies.
If world champion geniuses benefit from coaches, certainly the rest of us can as well.
The first step to finding a mentor
If you’re ready to get on the path of greatness, here’s how you can find a mentor. Start by going to your library (that’s an old-fashioned way of saying, “go to Google”) and look up who were the greatest people in the history of your field. For example, if you want to become a strategic investor and if you believe that wisdom can be learned from the “game of Kings,” try putting into Google, “chess and investing.” If you believe you could learn some good traits from the people that you find, start reading more about them. They can become your “virtual mentors.”
Connecting with a real, live mentor
In this article, I’ve focused on the idea of a virtual mentor. If you’d like to learn more about how to get someone to agree to be your mentor, send me an e-mail. I’m putting together some information on the subject now and I will be happy to share it with you.
Douglas Goldstein, co-author of Rich As A King: How the Wisdom of Chess Can Make You A Grandmaster of Investing, is an avid chess player, international investment advisor, and Certified Financial Planner (CFP®).
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