Years ago, I decided I wanted to play the guitar. Keen and eager, I rushed out and bought a guitar, amplifier, effects pedals and a few books. I got it all home, plugged it all in and then made a noise that sounded like a herd of cats all caterwauling out of tune.
After some days and weeks of struggling and irritating my family I decided that I needed to learn properly. The best way to learn properly is to get someone who is already an expert to teach you.
So I went out, found someone who was an expert guitarist in the style I wanted to learn and studied with them. I also watched my favourite guitarists playing; watching exactly how they played and moved their hands. I, of course, copied them (though I now realise it’s called modelling!).
With an expert teaching me, I soon became much better at the guitar and was no longer banished from the house when I wanted to play.
I could probably have taught myself guitar from books and from fiddling with the guitar, but it would have taken me a lot longer than it otherwise did. Through using a mentor, I sped up the learning process and avoided a lot of the pitfalls, bad habits and mistakes many self taught guitarists pick up along the way.
Later on in life, I worked as a consultant for a large computer corporation. Again, I was learning the ropes and was given a mentor; an expert who already knew the system and the company. My mentor advised and guided me through my career as a consultant. He saved me a lot of trouble and made me aware of all the loopholes in the companies processes and procedures, which helped me get more pay rises and a better company car!
Whatever area of your life you want to develop in, it is important that you have a mentor. Whether this is in your career, your personal life, your business or your hobbies. A mentor can speed up the learning process and help you to become the expert and success you want to be.
So how do you find a mentor?
Well, you may know someone who is already an expert and could approach them and ask them. You could join forums on the Internet and find experts there (though check their credentials first). Search for websites of people in the area you want to learn from. You may find they have books to help you or even provide a one to one coaching service. You can also read biographies and auto-biographies of people you want to learn from and model them.
Sometimes you may have to pay a mentor, whether with money or through providing them some service or help. Other times people will be happy to mentor you for free just to help you out. When you become an expert you too may want to give something back and mentor other people.
If you are looking for a business mentor, then often local chambers of commerce provide mentors free of charge. Professional bodies will often be able to put you in touch with a mentor too.
A mentor will save you a lot of time and effort in the long run, and it is well worth your time and effort to find one to shorten your learning curve. Whatever area of your life you are working on, business, personal or pleasure, find yourself a mentor to help propel you forwards to the level of success you desire.