A “Mentor” isn’t a person, it’s a decision YOU make. Choose wisely, and pay attention.
The best ones don’t even know how you feel about ’em. A good mentor shouldn’t have to have his ego stroked just so you can glean a dose of wisdom from his experience.
In fact, a good mentor – really – shouldn’t be a title you BESTOW anyone. A mentor is a decision; a decision YOU make based on what characteristics, qualities, or attitudes you’d like to emulate. And THAT requires a little more observation, and little less self-absorption.
Off the top of your head: Who do you admire most? Now dig deeper: Why?
Those are the easy questions. The mistake a lot of people then make is not following up the question “why,” with HOW? HOW did or HOW does this individual achieve an aspect of character that fuels your admiration?
And THAT requires some humility, curiosity, and the construction of a much taller observation deck. You have to put some WORK into it through research, or if you’re lucky enough, time-spent with your mentor of choice. Look, if you’re too self-absorbed to wonder HOW, there’s no point in considering ANYONE a mentor.
When I was first starting out on my own, my dad – my biggest mentor – gave me some great advice: To be successful, always be there, and always be aware. Pay attention to everyone’s character – especially those you admire. Become an individual by adopting the characteristics you ADMIRE in others, and discarding the aspects of character you don’t. Use all of those admired characteristics to build the personality you’d like to have…in your own way…in your own time.
And what I’ve learned, over time – is that the people who’ve influenced and inspired me the most aren’t necessarily successful business people, celebrities or pillars in the community; they’re friends, neighbors and positive human beings I’ve been lucky enough to get to know.
And the ongoing development of my character doesn’t come from lengthy interrogation and study of these people, but rather simple observation and the influence of their example. Then I apply those admired qualities of character to myself…without the person whom I’ve accepted as a mentor even knowing of his or her influence.
I can only hope that I too, in some small way, have had the same impact on others during the course of my life.
The best mentors in life aren’t looking for you give ’em that title…they’re just incredibly positive, influential people who’ve had a huge impact on your life. They help you become who you are, because of who they are. And while they’re completely oblivious to the impact they’ve had on your life; it’s a wonderful moment, should you have the opportunity, when they learn of your admiration, and the influence they’ve had on your character.