One of the best ways to hit a new, big goal or accelerate your growth (and the growth of your career or business) is to shift your mindset.
And one of the best ways to drastically improve your mindset is to get inside the minds of people who are currently at where you want to be next.
- If you are looking to start a business, you need get into the mindset of someone who has already grown a business to your target level.
- If you are looking to write a book, you need to get into the mindset of somebody who’s already finished a book.
- If you are looking to raise funding, you need to get into the mindset of someone who has closed a Series A round.
- If you are looking to sell your art, you need to get into the mindset of someone who has hosted gallery shows.
You don’t need to meet your mentor to learn from them.
You don’t need to speak to them, email them, or hop on the phone with them either. In fact, the best mentorships may be from the ones you never interact with at all.
So get out your notebook and pen and get ready to find some ideal mentors and dive deep into their mindsets.
By the end, you’ll have greatly accelerated your progress toward your goal in a fairly short time!
The High-Level Process For Finding Mentors
Before you find a mentor, you first need to know exactly and in crystal-clear detail where you want to go next, what you want to experience, and what goal you are working toward.
So, not that you want to finish your first book, but that you want to finish a young adult urban fantasy novel that hits a specific sales rank on Amazon in its first month, that easily attracts readers to a second book in the same series.
Or, not that you want to start a business, but that you want to make a specific amount of money each month for six months in a row, selling a specific array of products, putting in 25 hours a week because you have a family and a day job.
I know it seems really obvious that you need to get clear on your goals, but you’d be surprised by how many people don’t.
If you don’t know what your end game is, and you don’t know what your constraints are, it will be tough to find a mentor who actually has experience in what you want to do, and went through similar struggles to you.
Next, you have to identify people who are where you want to be next, or who have been there recently, to be your mentors. The “recently” part is important, because as people continue to move along their path, they can get so far ahead of you that they have trouble remembering the struggles or constraints they dealt with when they were at the stage you were. At most, you want someone just a few years ahead of you; someone who has done what you want to do even more recently is also a good option.
Then, you need a way to gain access to your mentors, which of course depends as much on them as it does on you. Sometimes you can pay for access, sometimes this access comes for free or at a low cost through books or blog posts, and sometimes that potential mentor has zero interest in sharing information with you! That’s okay, of course. To work around the pieces of this that you can’t control, you want to have a longer list of mentors that you could learn from.
Finally, you need some sort of system to understand, absorb, and dig into the mentor’s mindset on a consistent basis.
Gaining Access to Mentors
The first HUGE question is how do I gain access to these mentors?
The truth is that if you can gain access at all, there are a few free ways and a lot of paid ways. If you are at the point where you want to just focus on the free stuff, that’s perfectly fine! As you work toward your big goal (and if you decide you want to move faster), you can upgrade to doing the paid stuff as well.
Here’s a list of some things that you can do to gain access to your mentors:
- Dig into their website and go through all of their free content, like their downloads, their email list, their About page, their blog posts, everything. This will help you understand their message and their processes for getting new subscribers. Often, an ongoing email newsletter is gold for understanding a person and their work.
- Email them with your questions. One of the students in my course did this, and received five replies after emailing eight potential mentors!
- Contact them on social media, through their blog, through their podcast, on a Q&A session their hosting, and so on. Many people you would want to mentor you like to give back, too.
- Read all the books that they have written. Most people that you will want to be mentored by are thought leaders in their communities, so they will have books. This is one of the cheapest ways to get into the mentor’s mind.
- Take all the courses and programs they have. You’ll get to see the behind-the-scenes of what they’re working on, and studying their sales funnels, course creation, and other processes will tell you plenty about their mindset. Often, this is a nice way to get specific questions answered as well.
- Get some one-on-one coaching. If they don’t have a program, considering asking for one.
- If you have a skill set that your mentor might be able to use, ask them if you can do an apprenticeship for them. I’ve essentially gotten a job or done an apprenticeship with countless mentors, and it’s one of my favorite ways to work with people. I’ve also had so many people do apprenticeships with me. This gives you a behind-the-scenes look at how the person runs their business, and you can take the good ideas and toss the bad ones when you venture out on your own.
- Facilitate a mastermind. I run masterminds for my businesses, which enable me to invite guest mentors for interview. I learn a ton, too!
- Start a podcast or another interview format. This is a variation of facilitating a mastermind, and if you are able to make it worth the other person’s time, you can have a conversation with them in exchange for helping them publicize their work.
- Join a mastermind. I’m in several masterminds at a time, usually, and every time I get into a room with people who are much more successful than me. I am able to develop a personal connection with them that way, and it’s much faster to get answers to questions when you’ve met someone in person already.
- Go to live events. You can network your way to the top if you know your mentor will be at a small conference and you’ll have some space to talk to them and develop a connection.
- Form a free accountability or mastermind group. If you have a good network or something to offer to your mentor, you may be able to get them to join an accountability group with you. This can be a trickier one to make work, however, I’ve seen people make it happen, often by inviting all their mentors to a group and getting one to say yes, which brings in a few of the others.
Absorbing a Mentor’s Mindset
Once you’ve figured out how to access your mentor, the real work is in absorbing their mindset.
How do you do it?
Well, there’s the obvious answer: downloading their brain directly to yours. Hah!
Okay, you probably can’t do that. But there is something else you can do, and the key lies in identifying and understanding the mentor’s patterns of thinking.
Here are a few ways you can do this:
- Learn your mentor’s success story and how they got to where they are now. It’s likely that some of what they did is still applicable to what you need to do now (though depending on how long ago it was, the tactics may have changed, so watch out for that). Look very closely for their breakthroughs along the way.
- Pay attention to their online persona and how they conduct themselves in public. Ask yourself, why does he or she do it this way? Some mentors may have zero public persona (you should be curious why this is) and some are on full display, sharing stuff that’s both on-topic and off. What pieces of this are successful in attracting readers… and what pieces aren’t?
- How does your mentor solve problems and challenges? You may be able to suss this out by reading his or her books, blog, or About page.
- How does he or she spend most days? How many hours a day does he or she work? What tasks does he or she do? What are his or her routines? What does an ideal day look like?
- What are their core values? These can be industry-related or not.
- What would they do differently if they had to start over? If presented with your situation?
Finding answers to these questions may take a bit of work, but do your research and if you can’t find an answer, go back through the section on how to access mentors and look for a path that gives you the answers.
I highly recommend that after you get these answers (ideally from several mentors, not just one), you do some analysis to see which patterns overlap. Success leaves markers along the way, and all you really need to do is follow the path. For example, if you interviewed five full-time writers, they’d likely tell you that they write or edit for at least a few hours a day and also spend 30 minutes to an hour on marketing.
When you spot these different patterns of thinking and action, the last step is to change your thoughts and behavior to mimic what you’ve learned.
If, for example, your mentors all woke up early in the morning before the rest of the family was up to squeeze in some work, you likely need to do something similar to see success.
The details are customizable, of course. Perhaps you work a bit in the evenings, or make calls on your commute to work.
But the key is that you now know the markers of success, and you can develop a realistic plan to achieve your big goal, faster.
I’ve been making a full-time living at writing since 2015. Join my email list to learn my exact income streams through my report, How I Make a Living Writing.