I never realized having a mentor is one of the up and coming fads. It seems everyone’s got a mentor (and you don’t?). They’ve got mentors for startups, for senior leaders, for artists, and for every successful people you might know.
But are they successful? That’s subjective, primarily because not every startup is successful. Not every senior leader is a success. Not every artist is successful. If you’re like most people, your view of success is far different from the reality of the very people you see as successful.
Likewise, having a mentor doesn’t mean they were lucky to have found one. Some mentors these days just come with the package! I’m not kidding. Startups, art schools, and organizations have formal mentoring programs that automatically assign you a mentor when you join the organization/entity. It’s so random as being set into an online break-out room during a workshop.
What’s so unique about an arrangement like that? Nothing. Of course, some individuals have mentors who’ve walked the path they’re on right now. Such mentors, however, are rare to find. For two reasons:
- They don’t have enough time in the day to mentor anyone and everyone. I say that because everyone wants to be successful, and they all have been told that “getting” a mentor is the fastest way to succeed. There must be close to 2 to 3000 people waiting to be their protege for every successful mentor. That’s insanity!
- You don’t have a reputation or enough credentials to give the mentor a return in their time’s investment. In simpler words — they aren’t sure if you’re worth their time.
So, what gives? How does anyone find a mentor?
You can Google them or go to mentoring and coaching associations to find a paid arrangement, which, to be honest, I find cheesy. Why the heck would I pay a mentor to be successful? They won’t look out for me if my business is failing. Am I not better off paying a consultant to accelerate my business?
You probably are.
That’s why I think it makes more sense to have heroes than mentors. What heroes? Well, the kind that you admire. Maybe Steve Jobs is a hero of yours. He doesn’t even have to know that you exist. But as his number one fan, you know everything there is to it about Steve, his life, his style, and how he became successful.
You very well can use his voice in your head as a compass to guide your thoughts, actions, and making tough decisions with a simple question: what would Steve do?
Sounds silly? Steve never had a mentor, but he sure did have his set of heroes who didn’t even know he existed. He used their voices to guide his thoughts, actions, and decisions. What’s stopping you from doing the same? You don’t need anyone’s permission to get started. You start!
Almost 100 years ago, the iconic book, Think and Grow Rich mentioned the idea of “The Invisible Counselors”. The basic idea was to imagine yourself in a board room with a group of your favourite role models (fictional or non-fictional) whom you can trust to provide you with sound advice. You can ask them questions and imagine how they would respond to you.
I know some influential people have used this visualization exercise to aid creativity and problem solving to accelerate their careers and businesses. The best part of the exercise has an outside perspective that can give answers and insights to your challenges that you usually wouldn’t get to.
“While the meetings with my counsellors may be purely fictional and exist only in my imagination, they have led me down a glorious path of adventure, rekindled my appreciation of true greatness, encouraged many creative endeavours, and emboldened the expression of honest thought.”
Over decades, Napoleon Hill and countless leaders have used their heroes to elevate themselves to achieve extraordinary goals. Sure, some had the privilege of having mentors “take care” of them, but everyone isn’t blessed to have one. But each of them did have their heroes to guide them through the rough and tumble of their careers and lives.
The best part about heroes is that they scale. You can have dozens of your heroes be part of your advisory committee. Unfortunately, you can’t say or hope the same for mentors.
Now, if you’re sceptical about this, I get it. It sounds corny, a bit woo-woo, and even childish. Guess what, it’s alright, and on your way out of this blog, I wanted to ask you one thing: what would your hero say about this idea?