Will you be my mentor, sir?
I get this multiple times a day. When you’ve had any tiny success on the internet it’s a common question.
We love mentors.
The business world teaches us to seek them out. Startup unicorns brag about how they had Bill Gates or Arianna Huffington mentor them. The stats in the headline of this article came from George Ten who made me rethink mentorship.
These insights will help you find kickass mentors. They’ll help you reject requests for you to mentor people that’ll waste your time, too.
The #1 task most people looking for a mentor fail at
A good mentor won’t accept you with zero effort.
They’ll assign you a task. George Ten asks people who want him to be their mentor to read a book.
Only 5% of people ever respond to his request.
When he wrote a tweet about this he got 112 direct messages from people asking him “which book should I read George?”
It’s as if these people think that reading one book is all it takes. When he told them in another tweet which book to read, a large number of people asked him the same question again in the comments.
Muddassir Abdur Rub has a different tactic. If people ask him to jump on a Zoom call to discuss mentorship he schedules it for 6 AM.
100% of people never show up.
Failing to take even the smallest action is the #1 reason a great mentor will reject you.
This is why people strangely want mentors
This reality has happened to me as well.
Not to brag … I’ve written online for 8 years straight and made 7 figures doing it. So people want me to be their writing mentor. Or sometimes they will want me to advise them about how to conquer mental illness.
To get my help (with the latter) they have to:
- Book an appointment with a psychologist and show me
- Go to the events section on Tony Robbins’ website & tell me if they’d attend
- Read one book that changed my life which I give them the name of
Not one person has ever taken these three actions that transformed my life. What they don’t know is if they did, I would have paid for their $1000 ticket to attend Tony’s event. But they never did the 5 minutes of homework.
So why does this happen?
People don’t want mentors.
They want you to do the work for them for free.
They’re looking for hacks, introductions to Mark Zuckerberg, handouts, behind the scenes access to your business, free accommodation at your house. I wouldn’t even call it coaching.
You’re less of a mentor and more a free psychologist with zero qualifications.
Mentorship sells the lie “this goal can now be easy”
As soon as hard work is involved most people run in the other direction.
If I sat people down and told them what I did to write online for the last 8 years, they’d fall out of their seats. The behind the scenes process isn’t sexy.
It’s a road paved to hell and back.
Real writing every day is like running a marathon with navy seal David Goggins as your coach. It’s not just writing either. Any goal that looks sexy from the outside is bloody unsexy on the inside.
- Singers? Years of vocal training and rejections from record companies.
- Founders of successful startups? Failed at a minimum of three before their big win.
- Millionaires? Spent thousands of hours learning about asset allocation and investing.
There is no spectacular goal with an easy journey. And no mentor will give you a giant shortcut because you’re a nice person who said “Hi” to them on LinkedIn.
“So if I read the book you will mentor me?”
George got asked this question an astounding number of times.
Even though he said at the start of his tweets that all his mentoring is paid, the majority of the replies missed this detail.
It’s a common problem.
Most successful people in any field aren’t going to mentor you for free. They get hundreds of requests a day from people thinking they can play the mentor lottery and get lucky.
The quickest way to beat everyone else at the mentor game is to offer to pay someone for their time.
The weird thing is 9/10 times the mentor won’t even take your money.
The brutal truth is you don’t need a mentor
If you’re looking for a mentor what you need to do is stop planning and procrastinating.
How do you know what problems you need help with if you’ve never done the work? Starting with zero proof-of-work won’t get you far.
Good mentors want to see what you’ve tried.
If you say “I spent 200 hours doing X task and learned Y, but Z still doesn’t make sense,” you’re not starting from zero.
The worst thing in the world a mentor is trying to avoid is someone who hasn’t even taken the first step.
Where to find brilliant mentors worth millions of dollars…
You don’t find them. They find you.
They get attracted to your work because you’re building in public and documenting your lessons along the way. They find you because you’re changing the world in some tiny way.
They discover you because someone in their network mentions your name to them. So in conclusion, don’t look for mentors.
Focus on making your goals a habit and getting good at something. Less free advice, more action. That’s what the 5% who succeed and attract great mentors do.