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!