Get Further, Faster in your Career: 4 Steps to Finding a Mentor
Behind every successful person is at least one mentor — who believed in and supported them from the very beginning.
A mentor is the cheerleader who encourages your dreams and the advisor who helps you find your way. When things aren’t going well, your mentor provides you with a safe and supportive environment. You can confide in them with your challenges and frustrations, and trust them to provide honest, supportive feedback.
Your mentor is your champion — filling three crucial roles:
Sounding board: A champion provides wisdom and adviceand challenges you in ways that refine your perspectives and goals.
Support: A champion believes in, encourages, and often sees potential in you when you haven’t seen it in yourself.
Accountability: A champion will not let you off the hook, holding you accountable to your goals and helping you get back up after you fail.
Sir Isaac Newton understood this concept well when he said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” As Newton said, champions are those who allow us to gain perspective and insight from their firsthand experiences so we can see better, farther.
In my own life, I have benefitted from a number of long-time champions who have shortened my learning curve and given me a front-row seat to learn from their own successes and failures. Access to mentors like this is critical for anyone striving to achieve your dreams, pursue new goals or get back on track. The regular feedback and support my champions provided has proven invaluable throughout my journey.
Without these mentors, reaching our goals and dreams can be a long, lonely road. It is just too hard to go it alone. Finding your own champion or group of champions can make all the difference when it comes to those inevitable ups and downs of chasing your dreams. Below are four simple tips on how to find yours:
Many people ask me how to find a champion, and my answer is, Just ask. In life, we get what we ask for and what we are willing to act on. Don’t just sit on the sidelines wishing you had a mentor or believing it’s too hard to find one. Simply make the effort to find one, then ask if they would be willing to give you some time and attention. Chances are you have a list of people in your head right now. Act on it.
You’ll find that most successful people realize they have achieved success with lots of help from mentors who helped them along the way, and they usually want to pay it forward. But even if the person you approach says no, why not use their response as an opportunity to ask them to recommend someone else in your field of interest?
Seek out those who are better, smarter and more successful (so far) in their own work and life than you are. Look for people who can inspire you. Sometimes it may take time to find a mentor who has walked ahead of you in terms of age, experience and success. So if you haven’t found that person yet, look for a peer or colleague who is also uncomfortable with simply maintaining the status quo, and is committed to their own growth and development. In this instance, iron really does sharpen iron.
Be a Champion for Others
So many successful people have leveraged a circle of peers, friends and champions who cared about and supported them in their dreams. Recruit a core group of like-minded individuals who share similar goals and gather them into a monthly support group. When you have trustworthy and supportive people in your life, you become mutual champions for each other. These are the champions who will be there for you during the inevitable peaks and valleys that likely lie ahead in your journey.
None of us can do everything on our own. No matter how smart we are, we still need the benefit of other perspectives and helpful feedback. Indeed, the more champions we have in our lives, the better. Make it a top priority and get started right away. Get that champion in your life. They will make all the difference!
Peter Ruppert is founder and CEO of Fusion Education Group, which operates over 75 Fusion and Futures Academies for grades 6-12 in one student, one teacher classroom environments. A 20-year veteran of the education industry, he’s opened over 120 schools and acquired more than 25 others. He’s been president and CEO of organizations in the private school, charter school, and early education industries, and sat on his local public school board for 5 years. He lives with his family in East Grand Rapids, Michigan. His new book is Limitless: Nine Steps to Launch Your One Extraordinary Life. Learn more at peteruppert.com.
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