Very few people have ever achieved anything significant without the help and advice from key people they trust and respect. It is also true that many people have failed because they’ve followed the advice of the wrong person. As you try and decide what to do with your life, you will get conflicting advice – that is a fact. Your challenge is separating the good advice from the bad, and determining what is right for you.
One of the ways to evaluate advice is by taking a good hard and honest look at the person giving it, with a particular focus on the intentions behind their advice. As you do this, I encourage you to not let the persons age, occupation, or any other emotion get in the way, but rather focus on whether they’re trying to help you make a decision for yourself, or if they’re trying to make the decision for you. This difference main seem subtle, but the effect on your future could be huge.
When selecting a mentor, there is a very specific quality that you should be looking for, but before I get to what that is, I’d like to suggest that there are two kinds of people you should avoid at all costs.
The Know-It- All
There are lots of people out there who truly believe they’re experts on everything – just ask them. While they may be annoying, when left on their own they’re harmless, but when placed in an advisory role, they can in fact become very dangerous. Anyone who refuses to acknowledge that there are things they don’t know are living in denial, and as a result, any advice they offer is often foolish and misguided. Pretending to know what’s right is the dangerous part for you. I believe one of the key traits in a good mentor is the confidence to acknowledge that they don’t know everything; that they don’t have all the answers. What they are good at is pointing you in the right direction so you can find out the answers for yourself. In the end, a truly great advisor/mentor knows it’s not their job to make decisions for you, but to but to provide you with information and guidance you need so you can make your own decisions.
The Bleacher Bum
As we say in sport, it’s easy to sit in the stands and talk a good game; it’s much more difficult to actually play it. The same is true in life, in that there are many who prefer to sit back and watch from the sidelines as others play the game and make things happen. Despite their reluctance and lack of courage to get in involved, they have no problem sharing their views on what should be done and criticising the actions of others. So let me ask you, is this someone you should be taking advice from? As I’ve said before, I’m a firm believer that to be the best you; to be the person you’re meant to be; to achieve everything that you want in life; you’re going to have to take a few risks. I’m not talking about wild, crazy risks, but rather calculated, well thought out risk. The question is, what do these people really have to offer you? The answer is not much!
So who is the best person to seek advice from? The answer is people who have achieved what it is you’re trying to achieve; people who have enjoyed success in your area of interest; people who have blazed their own trail and have achieved their goals. In plain language, people who are getting the results you want to experience. People who are living their lives the way you want to live.
To help you find these people and get the advice you really need, follow these five steps:
- Make a list of the people who are doing what it is you want to do. This list should include people both within your community or general area, and others you admire, no matter where in the world they are.
- Find out as much about these people as you can. Determine what makes them tick. Find out what path they took to get where they are, and who they admire. If possible find out what failures they experienced and the risks they took.
- Select one or two of these people on your list and try to meet with them. It’s often not as hard as you think. Take a risk and give them a call. You may be surprised how open they are to mentoring someone who has the courage to actually call them.
- When you do meet with them – be prepared. Have a list of questions and don’t be afraid to ask them for advice.
- Take what you’ve learned and draw up a plan that’s right for you. Make sure the plan is bold, aggressive, and that it challenges you. Don’t take the safe route.