By Graham Acreman
The right mentor or business coach can make a significant impact on your business. They can help you grow your business exponentially faster than you ever could if you were operating alone. The right one can help you drive you and your business to new heights.
Earlier in the year I wrote an article, 10 Powerful Business Tips for Owners and Entrepreneurs. “Find a Mentor or Business Coach” was #9 on the list. Today, we’re going to dig a little deeper on this item.
In the game of chess, most beginners think in terms of their next move. Maybe 2.
In contrast, grandmasters in the chess world commonly think 8 moves ahead. In fact, Norwegian grandmaster Magnus Carlsen claims to think 15 to 20 moves in advance.
The ability to think ahead is based on having a goal (to win, accomplish or succeed) combined with experience. If there was no goal, there would be no need to think ahead. And, if you have a goal but limited experience then you are like the beginner in chess who is thinking primarily of their next move.
Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with this. People are learning all the time; usually at their own pace. The thing is, if you’re determined to succeed at accomplishing a major goal, the right mentor will help you get there faster.
I’m a big believer of the concept that you can learn things from every single person on the world. Some people provide good lessons, some not so good. But there is learning to be had.
I tend to look at three primary categories of mentors:
- People you know. You interact with them on a semi-regular basis and they can be a great source of guidance and ideas.
- People you don’t know. These may be people in your field or speakers or authors who are talking or writing) about the types of goals you are working to achieve.
- People you hire. These could be business coaches, advisors, peer groups etc.
All three are good and facilitate learning in different ways over different timelines. I believe a combination of all three is ideal but let’s look at each one on its own.
The first category, people you know, can be really helpful. I’m always learning things from people I know. The benefits of this type is that the advice is free and can be useful. The downside is that if you’re trying to move fast or create momentum it can be difficult to get the time you need when you need it.
The second category, people you don’t know, can be very on point to an issue at hand. The benefit here is that often, you can take the knowledge provided through a book or course and apply it to a specific issue. The downside is that it takes time to read a book or go through a course. You also need to be able to figure out the best way to apply your learning to your specific circumstances. This is sometimes easier said than done.
The third category, people you hire, should be extremely on point. The benefit is that you’re hiring someone who has done precisely the very thing that you are trying to achieve. If you’re a novice chess player, you’re going to learn far more from a grandmaster than a couple of other rookie players. A grandmaster knows exactly what you want to do and what it takes to get there. On the downside, if there is one, it will cost you more than the other two options. The trade-off is that you should have a much better chance of accomplishing your goals and will do so much faster. Only you can determine the value of that.
It’s also important to think of growth in terms of a balance between growth in your business and your own personal development. As your business evolves and grows, likewise your thinking should grow and evolve.
Ultimately, great mentors will have the following attributes:
- They are interested and vested in your success.
- They help you develop and grow.
- They will challenge your thinking.
- They are aligned with your best interests.
A mentor can help you grow as a leader. They can also help you achieve your business and personal goals on an accelerated timeframe.
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