think there is a misconception about what a mentor
truly is. A mentor is someone who guides you,
someone wise, someone you trust. A mentor can
be your confidant, advisor, coach, or even your role
model. Many people swear by their mentors and
frequently credit them with much of their success.
Yet you do not have to choose just one! The
mentor-protégé bond is certainly a special one,
but this does not mean you are limited to the
knowledge of only a single source. In the
early years of my adult life, I was hoping to find
just one person to guide me and direct me, but I
never did find that person.
Over time, a few things became clear to me:
1. There is no single person who can provide
us with every answer. So why abide by one
mentor who you know cannot meet every
requirement? I discovered that I could learn
more not by following the advice of a single person,
but by observing a multitude of people.
2. There is no perfect role model. I
used to believe there was such a person and that I
would simply model myself after him. All I
would have to do is watch and do the things he or
she did. Unfortunately, I haven't met that
3. There is no perfect person. Very few
people possess all of the qualities that I think
define success and happiness: great friends,
career, health, family life, finances, social life,
leisure, spiritual life, community involvement,
etc. Most of the very successful people I've
met had one or some of these, but hardly any had all
of them. So why compare myself to the perfect
person who doesn't exist?
4. I didn't have all of the answers, and I
never will. I knew that I was going to make
mistakes, but what I discovered was that it was much
easier to learn from other people's mistakes than to
make all of the mistakes myself.
To me, my mentor had to:
--- Take a personal interest in my development and
support me in the avenues I take.
--- Help me strive toward the highest of
aspirations, not only in career but in the
satisfaction of life.
--- Want to share his knowledge and experiences, in
hope that I reach a high level of achievement.
Show me the need to fulfill all responsibilities,
both at home and away from it.
--- Care about the well-being of himself and his
--- Be a great overall example.
Needless to say, I still haven't found that one
Since I couldn't find that one special person to
guide me, I needed to create a mentor. Now,
how does one go about doing something like
that? Well, it's not as hard as it
seems. You first have to determine what you
want. That is most important, not only because
it's part of the mentor process but because it
directly concerns what will make you happy in life.
Once you figure out what you want, find the people
that have it or know how to get it and make sure
they are willing to teach you how to get it.
You don't even have to know them personally.
As your mentors, they can teach you through a
variety of ways: books, audio tapes, lectures,
seminars, etc. A mentor then can have millions
Here is some additional advice in finding mentors:
1. You can learn from practically
anybody. In essence, anybody can be your
mentor. Not only can you learn what to do or
how to behave, you can also learn to avoid the wrong
paths that others have followed.
2. Identify the key people in your life.
Mentors can be close family members like parents or
siblings, and they can also be public figures.
Again, don't believe that you have to have a close
relationship with your mentors. Public figures
can be key people in your life because they can have
a profound effect on how you live it.
3. Find people with specialized
knowledge. If certain people have written an
insightful book on a particular subject or have
inspirational life experiences to share, then they
might be possible mentors who can help in motivating
you. Plus, if they are famous, they are easy
to watch via television or the Internet, and their
material is not difficult to find.
4. Try to ask as much as possible. Ask
people for advice, ask them how they got where they
are, ask them how you can get the same things.
Also ask yourself what certain people would say or
how they would act in specific situations. The
more prepared you are, the less likely you'll make a
mistake in the future.
5. Mentors can simply be people who are happy
in life! Salary and position don't matter as
long as there is contentment and commitment.
Mentors can range from athletes and politicians to
religious figures and stay-at-home mothers.
I have hundreds of mentors. So how many do you
© Self Improvement Online, Inc. David Riklan
is the author of Self Improvement: The Top 101
Experts Who Help Us Improve Our Lives, an
Encyclopedia on Self-Improvement with information,
quotes, excerpts and bios on many experts, such as
Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, Dr. Phil and Brian Tracy.