Imagine there are two kids who simultaneously decide they want to be Jedi knights (and yep, I know there’s no such thing as a Jedi, but humour me ok?).
One of them decides he’s going to learn by googling ‘How To Be A Jedi,’ and then teach himself based on the information he finds on the old Interwebz.
The other decides he’s going to be guided by Obi Wan Kenobi.
Who do you think stands more chance of becoming a Jedi? We both know the answer, right? It’s the kid who is guided by Obi Wan Kenobi. In this scenario Obi Wan Kenobi is acting as a mentor.
What Exactly Is A Mentor?
Most people think that a mentor is some kind of glorified teacher. Maybe a cross between a teacher and a confidant. And some mentors could be that. But a Mentor should be so much more.
My favourite definition of a mentor comes from a guy called Chris Vogler, who wrote a book called ‘The Writer’s Journey.’ The Writer’s Journey is a practical application of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey for screenwriters and novelists.
Vogler described a Mentor as a Hero who has completed the Hero’s Journey and come back to the Ordinary World to guide others on the first steps of their journeys.
Here’s the important takeaway from that description: “a mentor is someone who has completed the journey and come back to guide others.”
So What Does A Mentor Do?
A Mentor is part teacher, part guide. His job is to help equip you with the basic tools you need to survive the first few steps of your journey and help you avoid the snares and pitfalls that trap the unwary.
To start with a Mentor functions as a teacher – that’s the equipping you with the basic tools you need part of the job description. And helping you avoid problems, distractions and dead ends.
But as your ability levels and confidence grows the Mentor functions more as a trusted advisor.
How This Translates To The Real World
Science Fiction and Psychological Models are well and good – but how does a Mentor help in the real world?
Well if you’re thinking of starting up an online business you’re faced with a veritable barrage of choices – do you start up a business that sells physical products? Or a business that sells services? Or a business that sells nothing at all? Or one that sells digital products?
Once you’ve decided which ‘selling’ model you’re going to adopt you need to decide your web site strategies. How are you going to optimize your website to attract visitors? Are you going to use paid Ads to attract visitors – or are you going to use free content? If it’s paid ads, which works best – Facebook Ads or Google Ads? If it’s free content, how are you going to get that free content in front of potential visitors?
There’s so much competing information being trumpeted on the Internet, that it all blends into an unholy noise.
A Mentor Cuts To The Silence
The Mentor can instantly cut through this barrage of noise and silence it. Because he already knows what works in what situations.
He already knows the benefits of SEO vs. Paid Advertising. Or whether a static website is better than a blog. Or if subscribers to a list should be single opt-in or double opt-in. Or how to syndicate free content so that it attracts the most visitors possible.
Remember the definition of a mentor we looked at earlier: someone who has completed the journey and come back to guide others. In the process of completing the journey the Mentor has experienced what’s necessary- and in what order – and can guide the student as to what steps that student needs to complete, and in what order.
How To Find A Mentor
I’d love to tell you that there’s a Mentor’s Forum that has a section where you can go and post that you need a Mentor and someone will show up and apply for the job.
There’s no use trying to hide the fact – finding a good mentor is hard.
Here’s a strategy you could use: decide what your primary goal is with your online business and then search and find someone who has achieved that or something similar. Then drop them an email and explain your situation. Ask them how they learned. Ask them what books they read, or what courses they took.
And look at those books and courses. Often the way to find a mentor is not to look for a business coach specifically, but it’s to find an expert who has the ‘right toolkit’ that matches your needs and take a course with them.
That’s the way to begin a relationship.
As you take the course and the relationship develops you can possible then move on and ask them about mentoring. Although you’ll often find it being called ‘Consulting.’
(NOTE: before you buy any course please read the previous post I wrote – How To Raise Your Bullshit Filter – and always apply due diligence before purchasing anything).
A Mentor is someone who’s been there, done that, and got the T-shirt. And come back to guide others. Having a mentor to help you out can cut years of struggle and blind allies and frustration out of your path to achieving your goals. In my opinion a good mentor is one of the biggest business assets you can have.
After I wrote this article I created the screenshot graphic that you see at the top of the page by typing ‘How To Be A Jedi’ into Google. I nearly fell backwards off my chair when I saw that there were nearly 2 Million Results!
Maybe it would not be quite so difficult to learn to become a Jedi using the the old Interwebz after all.
I want to take a moment to give a public shout out to the guy who’s been my mentor for the last 18 months or so. That guy is called Sean D’Souza. And you can find out all about him at www.psychotactics .com. He’s also written a book called The Brain Audit which I highly recommend.
Do yourself a favour and subscribe to Sean’s weekly newsletter, it’s free and it’s always got provocative and informative articles in it. And when you email him to say thanks, tell him that Paul Wolfe sent you.