Why Mentoring Matters: Synergy and New Perspective
By Gail Riggins
Business Consultant at Brooks & Company
A single conversation across the table with a wise man is worth a month's study of books - Chinese Proverb
The dictionary defines the word mentor as a "wise and trusted counselor or teacher". Another common definition is a "coach." Either way, very few people achieve great success without personal mentors.
Napoleon Hill, one of the world’s most renowned experts on success and author of multiple books about achieving success, including “Think and Grow Rich,” considered mentoring to be part of a Mastermind Alliance. In his book, "The 17 Principles of Personal Achievement," Napoleon Hill states the following:
"A mastermind alliance is built of two or more minds working actively together in perfect harmony towards a common definite object. The mastermind principle lets you appropriate and use the full strength of the experience, training, and the knowledge of other people just as if they were your own. You can overcome almost any obstacle you face, no matter what your own education or talents, if you use the mastermind principle effectively. No one has ever attained outstanding success in anything without applying the mastermind principle. No one mind is complete by itself. All truly great minds have been reinforced through contact with others that allowed them to grow and expand. "
There is no synergy on your own. It takes at least two. Study anyone who is great and you will find that they had multiple mentors at various stages of their lives and in multiple areas (financial, spiritual, health, or business to name a few) for a variety of reasons. Some of these relationships lasted for a few hours, a few months, a few years and some for a lifetime. It was part of their leverage. It was how they learned to become great! In learning any new skill, there is a learning curve. A mentor can point the way, show us the shortcuts, pick us up and dust us off when we fall and teach us patience as we struggle through failure to achieve mastery.
We need mentors because they can give us perspective. Many times we are too close to see things objectively. We are caught up in the emotions of the situation, the fear, excitement, wonder and anxiety and confusion can overwhelm us. While I’m not an avid sports fan, the analogy works; think of a football game and consider who has the best view of the playing field; the person in the huddle or the coach in the bleachers? A mentor is detached and can see things from a distance through the lens of experience and time. A mentor can fill in the gaps in areas where we might be less knowledgeable. When mastering any new task, an experienced mentor can simplify the process, guide us through the complicated parts, help us avoid pitfalls, and warn us about unforeseen dangers. In short, a mentor helps us avoid the "school of hard knocks" which can be the most expensive form of education in terms of time, money and emotional pain.
Have you ever heard the saying, "When the student is ready, the teacher appears." That's because the student has made a commitment to a definite purpose. Before seeking a mentor, you must decide on the disciplines or areas that you want to master. You must have definiteness of purpose. According to Napoleon Hill, "Definiteness of purpose is the starting point of all achievement, and its lack is the stumbling block for ninety-eight out of every hundred people simply because they never really define their goals and therefore never start toward them."
Definiteness of purpose develops self reliance, personal initiative, imagination, enthusiasm, self-discipline, and concentrated effort. All of these things are required for success. Knowing what you want makes you aware of possibilities, and opens your mind to opportunities and attracts favorable attention from others which will open the doors to mentorship and ultimately, your success. Mentoring Matters!
An educated person is not necessarily the one who has the knowledge, but the one who knows where to get it when needed - Napoleon Hill