Mentoring and How to Use It for Your Benefit by Jack Zufelt

Jack ZufeltChapter 6 from the #1 best-selling book The DNA of Success

“Hitch your wagon to a star.” Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
John Bytheway says, “Smart people learn from experience. Super smart people learn from other people’s experience.” Having a mentor is an integral part of getting where you want to go and accomplishing what you want to accomplish in as fast a time as possible and in the most mistake free, time and cost efficient manner possible. Why try to reinvent the wheel when you can talk to its inventor? Albert Einstein knew the importance of seeking advice or answers. He said, “The important thing is to not stop asking questions.” An ancient Chinese proverb makes the value of a mentor quite obvious. It goes like this. “He who asks is a fool for 5 minutes but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.” NULL Who are you going to ask questions of? Obviously you ask someone who knows the answer. Who you put your trust in is very important. There is a story about two friends discussing religion. One said to the other, “Obviously you don’t know anything about the subject.” “Yes I do.” The other retorted. To prove that his friend didn’t know much about religion he said he would give him $5.00 if he could quote any one of the Ten Commandments. The friend accepted the challenge, thought long and hard and then said: “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” The guy who made the challenge was very surprised. Handing him the money he said, “I didn’t think you could do it!” You must choose carefully who you wish to seek advice from. Certainly not someone who only has opinions or only thinks he knows.

The person who desires to be successful will always learn from other people’s successes as well as their mistakes.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow observed that, “Sometimes we may learn more from a man’s errors than his virtues. Everyone needs mentors. They are critical in our quest for enjoying the best our lives has to offer. Mentors are ideal if you want to capitalize on the shortcuts and proven methodologies for creating wealth, closer relationships or any other important, positive, pleasant or fun objectives. Don’t ever believe that someone made it to the top without the help of others. Mentors are very necessary. Remember the adage,“People seldom improve when they have no other model but themselves to copy after,” the author of which is unknown to me. Don’t let fear or pride keep you from seeking out mentors. Take comfort in the words of Benjamin Franklin who said, “He that won’t be counseled cannot be helped.” You already know something about mentoring because you’ve probably enjoyed the efforts of mentors on your behalf, usually by accident. Let me explain. Nearly everyone has had a coach, music teacher, college professor, Big Brother, or business associate who has had a major impact on his or her life. It could even be someone who you don’t know personally—someone whose philosophy, attitude or example touched you deeply to the core of your heart and you decided to emulate them. The important thing is to recognize that, in some way, directly or indirectly, they were there for you, they knew what they were talking about, and they showed you a better way to do what was needed so you could achieve your Core Desires.

When we want to go somewhere unknown to us, most of us consult a roadmap. A road map is simply a mentor on paper.

So are all the non-fiction books and tapes that fill our public, business and private libraries from coast to coast. Mentoring has been with us since the dawn of time. Sophocles (496-406 B.C.) observed, “It can be no dishonor to learn from others when they speak good sense.” No school system exists that isn’t utilizing mentoring to teach – it’s as simple as that. Awhile back – probably sometime in the `80s, mentoring was a hot buzzword. People treated it as if it were something new. It was certainly the “in thing” to be involved with – either as the mentor or the one being mentored. Mentoring really isn’t even new to the business world. Hundreds of years ago, business people saw the value of mentoring when they set up guilds, with their inherent apprenticeship programs. Apprentice programs were nothing more than seasoned artisans teaching newcomers the ropes. Mentoring has been a mainstay of the military establishment the world over for eons. Armies the world over have taken in raw recruits and molded them into top soldiers, mainly through mentoring by seasoned, experienced and often battle-hardened drill sergeants. Sure, the recruits also had classroom instruction, but wasn’t it the military’s top mentors who wrote the textbooks, designed the lesson plans, and provided the teaching aids? Sure they participated in war games, but wasn’t it the mentors who structured those games, based on their experiences? Today, businesses around the world rely heavily on mentoring, whether or not they call it that. If you are in the business world you’d be wise to heed the word of management guru Warren G. Bennis: “Make sure you have someone in your life from whom you can get reflective feedback.” I could go on and on, but I think I’ve made my point. Mentoring is ubiquitous. It’s going on every day, everywhere. It isn’t anything new. It goes by many names but its end result is usually the same. With minor exceptions here and there, it is advancing civilization in a good and positive manner. It is definitely a source of guidance you should not leave up to chance.

An Important Tip: Never ask someone to teach, train, guide or lead you if that person has never successfully done what you want to do. Don’t ask someone making $60,000 a year to mentor you on how to make $160,000. If they knew, they’d be doing it.

Is it difficult to find a good mentor? My experience tells me the answer to that is, “No.” Most highly successful people are almost always willing to spend some time with you and give you any information that helps you understand what made them successful. They usually love what they’re doing. If you share their enthusiasm for their specialty, they’ll usually welcome you with open arms. I know I do when someone asks me. When I’m mentoring, I’m giving back that which was so graciously given to me. All but one individual I asked to mentor me did so willingly. I asked this very well known motivational speaker to share with me how he had become so successful. He was at least 30 years ahead of me. I was just starting out as a speaker and he was already famous. His response was, “I don’t train my competitors.” This was the exact opposite of what he taught on stage where he espoused the philosophy of helping others. If time permits, I love mentoring others and showing them what I did to create the success I now enjoy. I do so willingly because I truly love helping others become successful. I love it when they become successful knowing that I played a part in shaping their life. “The sign of a good teacher is when the student passes the teacher.” Author unknown. People come to my office from all over the world and stay as long as a week at a time. They sometimes fly with me on business trips or attend my speaking engagements. I even mentor internationally, via the telephone and email and newsletters. I became who and what I am because of my Core Desires to succeed and because I asked successful people how they got where they are. Then I listened to what they said, and did what they suggested and became like them. In fact, I have a beautiful plaque in my office listing in chronological order, on small brass plates, 32 of those people who impacted my life greatly. At the top, these words are engraved: “To These People I Owe An Eternal Debt Of Gratitude For Their Substantial Influence In
My Life.” Okay, back to specifics.

How do you get someone to mentor you? Simply ask.

Compose a letter along these lines: “Mr. or Ms. ________, you have accomplished so much in your business and/or personal life. You seem to have achieved the lifestyle (or family unity, closeness to your spouse, etc.) that I really want in my life. I want to be just like you. Would you please teach me some of the things you know so I can become more like you? Would you please show me how you got where you are? You might continue with: “I’m eager to learn from you. I’ll gladly work around your schedule. I will do whatever I have to do to learn from you. I will buy your lunch. I will fly with you at my expense wherever you go just so I can have time with you on the plane.”

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