Why Have a Mentor? Plus…How to Find Yours For Free

by Neal Frankle, CFP ®

Even if you have a successful career and/or personal life, you have a lot to gain by having a mentor. But why have a mentor if everything is going so well? Why rock the boat?

I’ll answer that. But first let me ask you a question. Have you ever met someone who thinks his or her life is pretty good…. but you know that with a few simple changes they could vastly improve their situation? I know you have seen these people. They are everywhere. One of them is me. And one of them is you.

The truth is we don’t know what we don’t know. If you are anything like me there are probably a dozen things you could do to significantly improve your life. But like me, you can’t or won’t see them. I know this is true because my mentor points things out to me constantly. Even though I do implement most of the ideas he comes up with, there are always new opportunities to improve.

It doesn’t matter if you are looking to improve your business, have a social life that is more satisfying, change your career, have a stronger personal finance or improve your health situation. A mentor can help you achieve far more than you can achieve on your own. If you aren’t where you want to be in some aspect of your life, having a mentor is the missing ingredient for your success.

Is an accountability partner the same as a mentor?

Maybe. Your mentor may indeed act as your accountability partner but your accountability partner may not be your mentor. You see, the accountability partner’s job is to hold you accountable. Together you agree on a course of action and you promise to complete steps in a timely manner. Then you check in with your accountability partner to make sure you are on track.

A mentor has a far different role. As I said, your mentor will certainly hold you accountable but her job goes beyond just that. Her role is to provide direction. And your mentor will provide that direction based on her own experience.

Your mentor will suggest the best path for you given your objectives. That’s pretty valuable input. Agreed? Good. Let’s move on.

How do you find your mentor?what is a mentor

This is the fun part. Look for someone who has overcome the obstacles you now face. This is critical. Are you trying to advance your career? Go to your boss and just ask him or her to mentor you. Are you trying to save more money or invest better? Approach someone who has what you want.

Why would anyone mentor you for free?

Shut your eyes (after you read this paragraph) and think how you’d feel if someone came up and asked you to mentor them? It feels pretty good….right? They are giving you just about the greatest compliment you will ever get. They are saying they respect and trust you and that they look up to you. They want your guidance.

That’s the gift you give someone else when you ask them to mentor you. Most people just love to help others. Only punks don’t care about others and you don’t want a punk for a mentor anyway. If he or she declines your offer, consider yourself lucky. This person automatically disqualified themselves. Cool beans.

Keep in mind that mentors get a lot out of working with you too. When someone teaches something to someone else their own understanding gets much deeper. That’s been my experience anyway and it’s a tremendous benefit of becoming a mentor to others. Your mentor has as much to gain from the relationship as you do.

How to Work With Your Mentor

Explain exactly what it is you would like to accomplish and then take direction. That’s it. Take direction. Listen to what your mentor says and implement the ideas. If your mentor has crazy nutty ideas, change your mentor. But if you agree to have a mentor, you must learn from her and embrace her knowledge. What sense does it make to have a valuable resource and not take advantage of it? None. Take direction.

There is nothing wrong with having multiple mentors. There is also nothing wrong with working with a mentor for a period of time and then moving on. I have a number of people on my “team” who act as mentors. They have been an invaluable resource for me.

Do you have a mentor or mentors? How have you worked together? How has it helped you? What has been the result?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lacy @EarnVerse March 11, 2013 at 9:59 AM

I think mentorship is something that is greatly overlooked these days. I have people who where at one point or another a mentor in my life, who maybe now I have outgrown as life changed, but their influence on my development has been huge. But a key point is that life does change so that you may need to continue to look for and expand your possible mentors so that the relationships continue to have meaning and benefit.

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Neal Frankle March 11, 2013 at 10:08 AM

Excellent point. I also think that both parties really benefit by the relationship. When it’s time to move on, it’s a good thing for both parties…..

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