There is tremendous value in learning from someone who has already trod the path. Age, wisdom, knowledge and experience all provide a perspective different from our own. Mentors can help us grow as human beings as well as humans in business. The beauty of the age we live in is that you don’t have to have just one mentor, but several and they don’t even have to know that you exist.
I have mentors. I have many mentors. Just because they don’t know my name or who the hell I am is entirely beside the point. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin and Ian Anderson Grey of Select Performers and all of the Shark Tank are mentoring me. My other mentors include Lilach Bullock of Sociable and Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo. Every day I scroll through posts on Linked In, Entrepreneur, Inc., Fast Company and The Onion, inhaling the heady scent of people with ideas and plans and ideas about implementing plans. It’s intoxicating and sometimes a little overwhelming.
Each of the many groups I participate in on Linked In offers opportunities to learn about different fields and different topics. It is a veritable smorgasbord of brain food, although, admittedly, some information is more useful than the rest. For example, one day a couple of weeks ago I clicked on an article regarding body language and was rewarded with a stimulating entry regarding entering (pun intended) the lucrative internet porn business. It was certainly not what I expected to read but it was…educational.
Mentors are whatever people you find that are willing to share what they know to assist you in achievement. Cyber mentoring is exclusively one sided – someone throws something out into the vastness of the interwebs or television and you make the decision to catch it or not, with no accountability on your part. The best part is, it costs you very little or nothing at all. Frankly, if these smart, successful, creative people are going to talk for free, you bet your bum I’m going to lean in, sit down and listen.
Personal mentors and coaches are a different animal. I have friends that work in the career-coaching fields and I have friends that are teachers. They get to see and feel the impact that they’re having on someone’s life directly. It’s a different kind of exchange because it is an exchange. There is an ongoing conversation happening. There’s a system in place of education, awareness and accountability. Let us not forget that there is usually a monetary exchange for services provided. My cyber mentors don’t follow up, don’t hold me to my goals and, as I may have mentioned, don’t know my name. They also don’t cost me anything.
Ultimately, what you require from a mentor is going to determine who and what kind of mentoring is right for you. Here’s the question: do you have the ability to be accountable for yourself, to yourself, or do you need someone else to do the pushing and nudging? Only you know what’s right for you.
LB Adams is the Head Communications Maven at Practical Dramatics based out of Charleston, SC. The company uses basic acting techniques and theatre skills to train business professionals to communicate more dynamically and effectively.
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