I was recently asked to join a discussion on whether mentors or accelerators really help grow a business. The premise was that there is "no empirical evidence that mentors or accelerators help growing a business" (except when the mentor is an angel investor). Further to this, it was put forward that mentors have been shown to build a false sense of security and get companies too focused on "big ideas" and that there has been no evidence shown that companies are more successful if they come out of an incubator/accelerator.
I cannot speak to being part of an incubator or accelerator, but I can speak to mentors. I can also understand why the premise of the discussion was accepted by a lot of the group - that mentors don't work.
Like any relationship or partnership, you can do things the right way or the wrong way. A lot of mentorships go nowhere.
The reasons are straightforward. First, because mentorship and "masterminding" is so hyped in the business and personal growth space, many think of it as the cure for all their woes. "Just get a mentor and you will succeed." It doesn't work that way and unfortunately, a lot of people go get a mentor "to get a mentor." That is when mentorships don't work.
The key to a successful mentorship is clarity of purpose and taking action. If you don't know why you are seeking a mentor, how are you going to use the mentorship to deliver real results? Furthermore, how do you know you are choosing the right mentor in the first place?
If you truly believe you need a mentor, ask yourself "why?" Get crystal clear on what it is you don't know that you want to learn. Get crystal clear on how you want to take that knowledge, put it to work for you, and how you believe it will make a difference. And lastly, use that clarity to determine exactly the type of person you need to seek out to mentor you.
Once you have clarity, it makes it incredible easy to succeed with a mentor and it helps them to better help you. If you can articulate exactly what you want from them, it gives them the information they need to point you in the right direction.
As mentioned above, once you have clarity and have chosen a mentor, the next equally important step (and commitment to yourself), is to take action on the things you are taught. It has always amazed me how you can have 100 people in a room and have someone teach them specific steps on how to succeed at something, but only a small handful will actually take those steps and do it. Don't be one of the people that sit there and nod their heads in agreement, get excited, and then never even attempt to put into practice what they've learned.
Mentorships, like any relationship or partnership, take work and action to make them successful. No one is going to do it for you. But, a good mentorship with clarity of purpose and the willingness to act and put what is learned into practice can help you succeed exponentially faster. So, to answer the question, "Yes. Mentorships work very well, when they are built on clarity and the mentee takes action." Get out there and get learning and doing!
The following is an excerpt from my forthcoming mini-book, "Win the Day," that will be offered FREE to Misfit Nation. If you want a copy, sign up at the link below and it will be sent to you when it's released.
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Everyone Wants to Be Successful
Everyone, if asked, wants to be successful and have control over their life living on their own terms. So the question is, if so many want it so much, why do only a few make it? Why is it that you can have a room full of people who have the same skill sets and learn exactly the same information, but only one or small handful of them will take those skills and information and become successful?
You know people like this, people who have all the talent, ability, and information in the world, but go nowhere. Author John Maxwell wrote a book about this. It is called Talent Is Never Enough. It is the perfect description for these types of people.
So, what is the difference between those who make it and those who do not?
Let‘s do a short exercise, and I think you will understand. If I told you right now that there were $100 million sitting in a briefcase somewhere in the world and you had twenty-four hours to find it and it was yours, would you want to go after it?
When I ask this question to just about any audience, their response is always and emphatic "Yes!" Of course you would; almost anyone would. The next thing I would tell you and them is, ―Okay, go get it.
At this point, many people, probably as you are right now, look at me with confused faces, deer-in-the-headlights looks, and crinkled noses. I‘ll ask you the same thing I ask them, ―What‘s the problem? I just told you there was $100 million out there for you. Why are you still here?
People sit staring until finally, someone asks the question, ―But how are we supposed to find it? We need some direction.
Ah! There it is. It is direction that people need—the map to get them where they want to go.
In short, as author and speaker Brian Tracy says, ―Clarity is the most important, essential part of success.
You must be crystal clear on what you want and have clear plans to reach it. That is a critical difference between those who reach their success and take true control of their life and those who have the same skills, talent, knowledge, and so on, but do not.
Along with seeking out the knowledge and resources they need to become whom they aspire to be, the former have a clear vision and plan, a map. As John Maxwell put it, "Talent is never enough." It is the crystal clear vision you have for knowing what it is you truly want and then putting the structure and discipline in your life (the plan) that you combine with talent that get you to where you want to go.
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Everyone is looking for "the one thing." They are looking for the "holy grail" that will solve all their problems or suddenly take them from where they are to their nirvana - whatever it is.
People ask me all of the time, what the most important piece of advice I can give them is for success. To be honest, I don't know. Every single one of us has a different situation in life and what works for one person won't work for the next, so it's crazy to say "here's the one thing that works for everyone, no matter what." Maybe that is the answer - the only guarantee in life is that there are no guarantees...
I have pondered the question of "the one thing" for many years and after interviewing and working with hundreds of some of the most successful and highest performers in their fields, I have not found it, but I have found something that I think is better and that everyone can use to live their lives to the fullest. it is one of the simplest things to understand, but hardest to create in your life.
I'm talking about creating a crystal clear vision of what you want, who you are, and the life you want to live.
Like I said, it is easy to understand, but hard to create.
Here is my best advice for creating the clearest vision for yourself.
Ask Yourself What You Desire Most
Dennis Waitley famously said, "Out of need springs desire, and out of desire springs the energy and the will to win." Let's change that a little to "Out of want springs desire..." What do you want more than anything in this world? Answer that question and then ask yourself the same question 5 more times. "What do you really, really want?" Get real with yourself. Truly discover what you desire most to the point of conviction. Get to a point where you know what you want so well that your mind cannot be changed and there is no such thing as a "second guess." In other words, have crystal clarity on what you want.
Once you know what you want, then desire will take over and help to fuel you to reach your vision.
Write Down the Vision
As desire begins to take hold and you find yourself living, breathing, and thinking about your vision, take some time to write it down. I always liked the exercise of writing a "Day in the Life" paper. Think about what your life would be like if you reached your vision. What would your typical day look like? Write it out and be very specific and descriptive. For example, if your day has you waking up on your yacht, describe everything about it. Write about the sea breeze hitting you in the face as you emerge from your state room. Describe what you see and feel as you look out across the ocean, etc.
Why do this? Because it anchors the feeling and reality of the promise of your vision in your mind - and your mind is your most powerful driver to get you to your vision.
It Has to Pass "The Test"
OK, so you have your vision, you know exactly what your day will look and feel like when you reach it, but how do you know that your desire is working for you? There is a simple test you can use to make sure that your vision is crystal clear and your desire is driving you toward it.
The simple test is this - Are you so you energized and excited to jump our of bed in the morning, that nothing can stop you? Do you wake up every day passionate and excited to go after your vision and take another step in bringing it and your day in the life to reality?
If you cannot get energized or passionate to go after things each day, then you need to go back and work on your vision until it produces those feelings inside of you. You'll know when you've got it and everything will fall into place. Your desire will be a force in your life like no other and you will stop at nothing to make the vision a reality.
Don't make it more complicated than it is. Get inside your head, figure out what you truly, truly want, cement it by writing it down and then go to work. I cannot guarantee that a specific strategy or tactic will make your a success, but I can guarantee if you find your vision and make sure it is crystal clear, you will have the most important ingredient you need to live your life to fullest. Get going!
Do you feel like you are stuck in a rut in your business? Or do you feel like things have gotten a little boring, complacent, or slow? Maybe, the growth you used to find easy is not so easy any more?
If you have had your company for a while or have worked at mature company for a number of years, you have no doubt had the these times. You may be going through one right now. If so, this article is for you.
Businesses go through cycles and in those cycles are peaks and valleys, especially as they mature and grow larger.
One of the things I have noticed as companies mature is that many settle into accepting slower growth and sales. The mantra becomes, "That's just the way it is. The old days are over." Far from it.
After being part of organizations with this problem and coaching others out of it over many years, I have found that one thing that is constant when companies hit these valleys. It comes down to this:
When companies have the most trouble is usually when the senior people, the people that built the organization and got them there, stop taking time to learn, listen, and spend time with those in the trenches on a daily basis.
You can understand why this is an issue. If you don't know what is happening on the ground, how can you really make decisions for an organization or with regards to clients? I was once working with a group of senior leaders who were making decisions for a world-wide salesforce of which none had been in the field in years. They were relying on surveys to make their decisions!
Surveys are nice, but they certainly don't give you the full picture. The decisions being made not only affected clients, but also cut commissions to their salesforce - and they hadn't consultant with anyone working the day to day in the trenches. Not the sales reps, not even the front line sales managers. Bad move.
If this group had moved forward with their plan, they would have not only hurt their product and brand with their clients, but greatly disincentivized their salesforce. That would have led to less sales, profits, and the loss of some great talent.
Thankfully, we worked through it and had the group members take some time and get back in the field and trenches with the people doing the work on a daily basis and listening to clients first hand. As you can probably predict, there were some amazing insights that they gained. They ended up reworking everything and not only giving the clients what they really wanted (which was different than what their surveys said), but also created some great incentives for the salesforce that energized them and helped them to further succeed.
Whether you are a large or small business, in leadership, or consult for companies, always remember that the further you get away from the trenches, the harder it is to make decisions that really work well. You have to have the feedback loop of real world information on what is truly happening directly from those doing it. The better you get at that, the faster you will boost your success and the faster you can reach the next peak in your business.