Long Reads

5 Success Shortcuts Only a Mentor Can Give You

Even Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Richard Branson had mentors. Why don't you have one yet?
5 Success Shortcuts Only a Mentor Can Give You

In school, the set-up is quite simple: teachers educate the students, and students are supposed to learn. In the outside world, learning is just as crucial, but the opportunity to learn is not quite as conveniently laid out for you. So if you’re serious about being successful, you need to seek out a mentor—not necessarily a boss, a parent, or someone much older; but certainly someone more accomplished. You need someone who has enough wisdom and experience to teach you, and who’ll set you on the right path.

If even Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Richard Branson had mentors, there's no reason you shouldn't have one, too. Here are the advantages a mentor can bring to the table:

1. Wisdom from Past Experience

Experience isn’t everything, but it makes a huge difference. When you’re young, there’s a tendency to feel like you’re at your prime; like you don’t need advice from anyone. We’re all especially prone to this today, because everything is moving faster and leaving many of the old guard behind. But don’t let ego get in the way of your progress—there’s still a lot that you don’t know, and someone out there can teach you.

You can still be judicious about the new information you get, but sound advice from someone who’s been there and done that shouldn’t hurt.

2. Motivation

A good mentor is a motivator—often by example. While it’s great to have someone who cheers you on and offers congratulations when due, the best kind of motivation you can get from a mentor is the example they set. This is what the kids call #LifeGoals: someone who sets the bar of excellence and sets it high—someone you can look up to. As the mentee, you can learn from it.

3. Objectivity and Perspective

A good mentor will give you the third-person perspective you need. When you’ve been in a particular field or profession long enough, it’s easy to find yourself navigating around the same people who all keep telling you the same things. That’s when a mentor is invaluable. A good mentor will see in you what you cannot see in yourself, and what others can’t or won’t tell you—your mistakes, your areas for improvement, whether or not you’re still on the right track. A great mentor will help you sort through the rubbish and steer you towards the right direction. Allow your mentor to give it to you straight. The unfiltered, unbiased opinion of a person with more experience is invaluable.

4. Connections

A good mentor can connect you with the right people. No matter how talented you are, there will be gates that you can’t open, and gates that you didn’t even know existed. An experienced mentor can offer the key to those gates: your in with the old guard, your link to people who can help you in your career. Good mentors share their networks openly, providing a broader range of opportunities.

5. Frank Feedback

A good mentor keeps you humble. Good mentors value discipline and know how to keep you in your place. It’s one thing to dream big and take risks, which makes it easy to give in to hubris and to wind up batting above your league. You need someone who can help you build your wings and then tell you when you’re too close to the sun. Your mentor will call you out on bad ideas, misplaced feelings, and poor direction. When that happens, be sure you listen up.

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This article was created by Summit StoryLabs in partnership with Axe.
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