The power of mentors and role models
A role model is someone who you can look to as a good example of who you want to be like. A mentor is someone with whom you have a personal relationship, who offers guidance, advice and a sounding board for your ideas. Most successful and happy people I have met or read about have had role models. Many also had a mentor. I have been fortunate to have had several great role models and mentors in my life, which has helped me to become the person I am today.
My first role model was the landlord of the local public house at which I had a weekend cleaning job. He taught me the importance of hard work and taking pride in a job well done, even if it was unglamorous or no one would ever see the results of my efforts. Since then over the years I’ve had several role models that I admired and from whom I took inspiration and encouragement to be the best version of me that I can.
While it’s important to avoid idolising or putting people on a pedestal – Steve Jobs, for example, was notoriously nasty and aggressive towards people – if you find aspects of people that you admire, you can explore what, why and how they work to find clues as to what might help you achieve similar outcomes.
My first mentor was a brilliant and successful financial planner, who I met in my late 20s, called David Norton. David epitomised all the values, principles and approach to life that I believe in. As well as being a total professional, he was always encouraging, supportive and enthusiastic towards me and my career. Although David died suddenly at the age of 54 in 2005, I can still remember his wise words of wisdom to this day.
A mentor is likely to be the most productive and meaningful way of achieving the personal and business outcomes you desire, because it is more personal and relevant. Even mentors often have their own mentors, as they make a commitment to lifelong personal improvement.
When I decided to become a professional speaker, I hired Alan Stevens (www.mediacoach.co.uk) as my speaking mentor. We met each month and spoke on the phone in between. Alan’s guidance, advice and support helped me to develop the confidence, skills and knowledge to build my speaking business far quicker than might have been the case had I struggled along on my own. I’ve also made a good friend.
Being a mentor to others is also a highly rewarding experience. Research has shown that being of service to others releases dopamine to the brain, the hormone which gives us a feeling of well-being and happiness. One entrepreneur I know makes available 30 mins a day, free of charge, to provide ongoing and one off mentoring to aspiring entrepreneurs.
I enjoy mentoring younger people. Far from me coming up with all the answers, I ask the tough questions that help the person I’m mentoring to come up with their own answers and make their own decisions. It’s very gratifying to see someone develop and grow their capability and multiply their success.
So how about you? Do you have the right people around you? Or could your experience and knowledge help someone else develop and grow? I’d love to hear about your own experiences of role models and mentoring, so do leave a comment below.