5 1/2 Mentors That will Change your life


“In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that, I learn from him.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Everybody wants a mentor.

Someone who can help them “get ahead”. Someone who can show them the shortcuts, give them breaks and move them to the front of the line. The truth is, you don’t need a mentor. You need something that is infinitely more important than a mentor.

“You don’t need a mentor, you need to learn how to be mentored.” -DS

Having a mentor is worthless unless you have the skills to deploy what you learn in real and tangible ways. So, how do you learn to be mentored?

Everywhere you turn, there is someone you can learn from, someone who can help you, someone who can teach you.

The question is, are you willing to take personal accountability for your personal development?

You don’t need a mentor. You don’t need permission. You don’t need to wait.

The most important number… ZERO

Zero is the percentage of responsibility your mentors (or anyone else on the planet) has for your your personal development. -DS

You are the best change you’ve got. And that’s awesome. You are the only person on this planet that you can control.

When you leave your happiness, your career, your emotional stability, your outcomes and your okness (I know it’s probably not a word) to your circumstances and the people around you, the best you could ever hope for is a life of victimhood.

You have been called to so much more. There has never been (and never will be) another you.

Do you.

I had the test to prove it

“If you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live it’s whole life believing its stupid.” -Albert Einstein

When I was 11 years old, I found out that I was stupid. Not stupid like I had done something stupid. Stupid like, that’s WHO I was.

I was stupid.

I knew it was true because I had a test that proved it. That summer, my mom had taken me to school to be tested.

The test lasted at least a bagizzillion hours. Then, it was over and I got to go home.

I had all but forgotten about that boring and irritating test when my mom called me into the living room one afternoon. The results were in.

Opening the big manila envelope, my mom pulled out the papers and began reading them. Then she stopped reading because she could no longer see the words on the page though her tears.

We sat in the living room and read the report. Multiple disabilities. I was a LD (Learning Disabled) kid. So disabled in fact, that as an 11 year old, I couldn’t write my alphabet on my own.

The following year, I started taking Ritalin and going to “special classes”.

Actually, my teachers were giving me Ritalin and I was depositing it in the slit in the drain of the water fountain. I hated the way it made me feel. Plus every time I had to swallow that powdery “zombie pill” I wondered why God made me to be a person who had to be medicated to be tolerated.

From that point on, I would go to summer school or be pushed to the next grade. Mostly because the teachers couldn’t imagine dealing with me for another year. And every year, my confidence got smaller and my deficiencies seemed to get bigger.

The one thing I had going for me was basketball. I have always been tall. In fact, When you look at my class pictures, I looked more like a teacher’s assistant than a student.

I put 100% of my time, energy and focus into basketball. I would shoot before and after school. And most days, I would go to the gym and shoot during class. I loved the feeling of being good at something. Being praised for something. When I was on the court, I wasn’t stupid.

I had found it. My purpose in life. Basketball was my calling and there was only one problem that stood in my way… College admission.

Dang. I was so close to having it all figured out. As high school graduation approached, the colleges I wanted to attend wouldn’t give the time of day. It wasn’t that I was not talented enough, it was that I was a liability to their program. They weren’t sure I could hack it as a college student.

There was a school that was willing to take a chance on me, Liberty University.

When I got to LU my freshman year, I had so much hope. A fresh start.


I was called to my coached office before freshman orientation and he told me that I hadn’t been cleared by the NCAA clearinghouse. That meant I would be red-shirting my freshman year.

No basketball for a year?!?! As I felt the blood drain out of my body, I had to figure out how to cope with this.

To add insult to injury, I learned something diabolical about Liberty that first year. They actually made their athletes go to class and perform like all the other students.

By the end of my freshman I had EARNED a 1.4 GPA. And that’s not good enough to play.

I was facing a big problem. If I didn’t get my grades up, not only would I not play my freshman year, I likely lose my scholarship and never play college basketball at all.

That’s when I was called to Sarah’s office.

When I arrived at Sarah’s office, I could tell she was waiting for me and I also knew she wasn’t happy. Before I could even sit down she pointed at me and said, “You know what your problem is? Your problem is that you’re a victim!”

I can remember thinking in that moment, “Finally, somebody understands. I am a victim. I didn’t ask for this. I didn’t choose these deficiencies. I can help it.

What happened next fundamentally changed my life forever. Sarah finished her sentence.

“You know what your problem is?
Your problem is that you’re a victim.
A victim of your own thinking.”

She went on to tell me that I would be coming to her office every day after class until I changed my mind. For me, that wasn’t a problem. I had become very good at making teachers quit. In fact, I was pretty sure this whole thing would be over by the end of the week.

The following day, I walked into Sarah’s office after class ready to explain why her efforts were futile. Before I could get a word in, she handed me a stack of colored construction papers and a box of crazy 8 crayons.

Let me remind you, at that time, I was a 6’7, 230 pound division 1 college athlete.

I was pretty sure that coloring was below me.

Sarah didn’t care. She went on to tell me that she would be reading my homework to me and I would be drawing pictures. She didn’t care what the pictures were as long as they reminded me of what she read.

Over the next couple weeks, something strange began to happen. I started to remember some of the things I had colored. I even remembered them at test time.

That’s when I had my alarm clock moment.

Alarm Clock Moment

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” - Mark Twain

I was sitting in the computer lab getting ready to click the “view grades” button. It was the end of the semester and most of the students had gone home but not me. I wanted to stay and wait for the grades to be posted. I was more nervous than usual. I think because this was the first time I didn’t know exactly what to expect. Every other time I knew how bad it was going to be. History had taught me to set my expectation low and I wouldn’t be disappointed with the outcome. But this time was different. I felt different. I had hope.

With a click of the mouse, my grade appeared and I couldn’t believe my eyes. My previous 1.4 GPA had turned into a 3.4.

That’s when it happened. My Alarm Clock Moment.

We all know the feeling of realizing you’ve slept in and your alarm clock didn’t go off. You are going to be late for something really important… You leap out of bed! The adrenaline kicks in! Panic quickly follows! And you begin frantically doing everything you can to make up for lost time.

That’s the feeling I had. Except I wasn’t at risk of being late for a class or a meeting or a flight, I was late for life itself. Sarah was right.

What do I do? How can I catch up? Who can help me? Wait… Can I catch up? Will anyone want to help me? My mind was flooded with questions. I felt free and paralyzed at the same time. That’s when I learned my 1st valuable lesson.

When you don’t know where to start… Start where you are.

The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD. -Proverbs 21:31

Starting is the hardest part. Starting is where momentum comes from. But to start is to open yourself up to the possibility of defeat. After all, If you don’t play the game, you can’t lose… or can you?

For most of my life, I thought I couldn’t lose if I didn’t try. But what I learned was that by not trying, I was losing. So I had a choice. Did I want to keep losing or did I want to start.

When I realized that no person on earth had a right to tell me what my potential was, I decided that I wouldn’t guess. I would go find out for myself.

I started.

Started From The Bottom

“Sometimes it’s the journey that teaches you a lot about your destination.” -Drake

I started by observing. What can I learn from this, was my most common thought. My second most common thought was, How is this like something I already understand?

I asked questions.

I started reading.

I stopped feeling sorry for myself.

I realized that I had gotten mentorship all wrong.

I thought mentorship was when some rich old dude picks you because you he sees something in you. You follow him around, get him coffee, pick up his dry cleaning, do what he says, then one day, you get to be the rich old dude and pick the next person. Kinda like The Devil Wears Prada…

Once I realized just how wrong I was, I decided I would redefine my idea of mentorship.

Mentorship isn’t something that is done to you.
Mentorship is something you do for yourself… with other people.

Once my definition changed, my 5 ½ mentors began to appear.

0.5 — The Anti-Mentor

“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can never live long enough to make them all yourself.” -Groucho Marx

Think of the person who under no circumstances you’d like to emulate. That is your anti-mentor. And… they only count as half a mentor. Why? Because they don’t require as much attention as the other mentors in the following pages.

Knowing what you don’t want balances you and your ability to see what you do want more clearly.

“Knowing what you don’t want is just as important as knowing what you do.”

We all know these people. You may have Thanksgiving dinner with this person. You may work for this person. You may live with this person. You may (use to) live with this person. And if were 100% honest, we’ve all been this person at some point in our life.

Disclaimer: The anti-mentor is NOT a licence to become judgmental.

Actually, judgement is the exact opposite of this process. Judgement sees people as a photo instead of a video.

A video has parts, it changes, it has hope for the ending.

A photo is static. It doesn’t move. It is what it is.

When someone pulls out in front of Judgement in the interstate, all judgement can see is a photo of it’s circumstances. By its very nature judgement says, “What a jerk! Can you believe how inconsiderate some people are!”

So, how do we take judgement out of the drivers seat? Invite curiosity.

Judgement and curiosity are mutually exclusive. They cannot and do not co-exist.

When someone pulls out in front of Curiosity on the interstate, curiosity wonders what the rest of the video is about. Curiosity says, “I wonder why they did that? Maybe they didn’t see me. Maybe they are having a bad day.

(shrugs shoulders and goes on with life.)

If we ever hope to learn from those who we don’t want to be like, we must do away with judgement and invite curiosity to chauffeur us through our experiences.

Curiosity is like Uber for your happiness.-DS

1 — Micro-Mentor

From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere. -Dr. Seuss

There are people everywhere. In your neighborhood, at your job, in the parking lot, at the grocery store, people are literally everywhere. And where there are people, there is opportunity to be mentored. That’s the beauty of micro-mentorship.

You don’t need a signed agreement to be mentored. You don’t need to ask for a formal meeting. Perhaps, instead of asking someone to be your mentor, maybe you should start by asking them a question and realize there are limitless development opportunities from the things that are already around you.

Micro-mentorship requires no permission, only perspective.

I challenge you to try one of these activities this week:

Go people watching: I crowded place like a park or a shopping mall is a great place to people watch. Find somewhere to sit and begin observing the body language of the people passing by. What are they telling you? Are they happy? Sad? Defeated? Worried? Getting a stronger sense for body language will help you understand people better, you will increase your ability to communicate and watching people can be pretty amusing

Ask a stranger a question:It may be as simple as asking your barista how espresso is made. It doesn’t have to be this deep mind bending questions. Just focus on being more inquisitive. Over time, the questions you ask will become more powerful. Start small.

Go on a scavenger hunt: Pick something to look for and spend the day observing. red cars, tall people, blue notebooks. The item does not matter. The point is you are honing your ability to observe. This is a useful skills when there is a particular area of your life you’d like to develop. If your observation skills are sharp, you will be able to more easily learn from your environment.

2 — The Categorical Mentor

Just because someone has achieved something that you’d like to achieve, that does not mean that you should do all the same things they did to achieve it. -DS

My grandfather grew up poor, very poor. I mean like salt and pepper sandwich is poor. His parents were tenant farmers or tobacco field during the depression.

He had two choices. I stay on the farm and probably starve, or move away and starve somewhere else. He decided that he take his chances somewhere else, and moved to Raleigh, NC.

After a few years, he found that he was right. He was starving. And so was his wife and two young daughters. So if the age of 38 he decided he needed to find a way to make more money.

And what do you do when you need some quick extra cash? Of course, you have a yard sale.

He had a problem though, he didn’t have any stuff to sell. Then, one day, he had a brilliant idea.

On his way home from work, he stopped at the local grocery store and pick up a newspaper. He flipped to the classified section and saw all the yard sales that would be going on that weekend in his city. He picked up the phone and called all of them.

“Hi, my name is Lawrence. And I noticed you were having a yard sale this weekend. If you’d like, I would be happy to come by your house on Sunday afternoon after your yard sale is over and pick up any of the stuff that you’re not able to sell and dispose of it so you don’t have to.”

And guess what???

Lots of people said OK.

That’s how my grandfather got his first stuff for his 1st yard sale.

Within five years my grandfather had grown the yard sale into a real business.

He built a 14,000 square-foot warehouse started full of furniture and paid 100% all cash.

Like I said, he was a brilliant businessman. He was also my first mentor. And I wanted to be like him in so many ways.

What I haven’t told you about my grandfather is when he was 50 years old he had his first heart attack. Triple bypass surgery, and developed diabetes.

From the time he was 50 till the time he passed away in his late 70’s, his health kept him from being able to enjoy life to the fullest.

If I could just have 15 minutes to talk to my grandpa there today, I guarantee we wouldn’t talk about profit and loss statements, budgets, inventory control, advertising, or any other business related issue. I guarantee he would ask me questions about how well I was taking care of myself if I was exercising if I was spending enough time with my wife and my daughter.

And that’s the point. Just because someone else achieves something that you would like to achieve (Financial success, marrying a certain type of person, driving a certain type of car, having a certain type of job, etc, etc) it doesn’t mean that you should duplicate every step that they took to achieve that thing.

Instead, you should reverse engineer their steps and only take the ones that will serve you, and your future.

The best way to honor those we admire is to duplicate the good things and learn from the things that they didn’t get perfect.

3 — Time Machine Mentor

What if there were a place where you could access the worlds information all in once place? What if that place were in your pocket? -DS

Great news! If you have internet access, you have all you need.

Don’t sit around wondering when someone is going to train you or help you or give you a shot, google it!

CLICK HERE to watch the amazing story of Julius Yego (The YouTube Man)

4 — Street-View Mentor

As you’re driving down the road of life, you ought to have someone in the passenger seat to keep you on course if you ever veer into the ditch. -DS

A few years ago, I was talking to my grandma about an upcoming business trip. I mentioned to her that I had to fly to Phoenix.

She asked me to not tell her when I was flying because she was afraid that I would crash, and she didn’t want to be nervous. To her, ignorance was bliss.

I told her how silly I thought it was and gave her a few statistics about how airplanes are safer than cars.

I wrapped up my argument by saying,

If it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go.

My grandmother looked at me like only grandmothers can and said with a smirk,

“Well, what if it’s the pilots time to go?”

She definitely had a point and I also think it applies to the street be a mentor.

The street view mentor is a person who has earned the right to speak into your life.

You have given them permission because they had demonstrated by word and deed that they care deeply about you and your future.

This might be a best friend, a friend of family member, a spouse or significant other.

It’s so important to have a small circle of trusted advisers. People that love you, people that you can trust, and people that want to see the best things happen to you.

5 — World-View Mentor

Bring on the Warthog!

That was a picture of an A-10 Warthog. A relatively slow flying military Aircraft.

The entire purpose of this aircraft is to give support to boots on the ground. That means it’s responsible for eliminating treats, realigning perspective and helping the mission get accomplished.

Isn’t that exactly what we want our mentors to do for us?

A great M.E.N.T.O.R. does 6 things:

Meet you where you are
Encourage your growth
Nudge you toward action
Tackle tough issues
Organize you through process
Realign your perspective

Of course, this is what we all want out of a mentor. In the punchline to this whole thing is the fifth mentor is the only actual human being. The other 4 1/2 or choices. Choices on how we bring our self into the world. Choices on what we decide to do with our circumstances.

And the worldview mentor shows up just like the A-10 warthog me. When we go to battle. When you begin to deploy the first 4 1/2 mentors, the fifth one, the big one, the important one, the influential one, will show up.

That’s what I learned. For so many years I waited for a mentor. For someone to give me access, opportunity and wisdom. And they never showed up.

Until… I started doing my work.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I would be honored if you would ❤️ it and share it with a friend.

For more about me, visit Doug Stewart919.com

To learn more about Dale Carnegie Training, visit DaleCarnegie.com or email me at Douglas.Stewart@DaleCarnegie.com. I would love to tell you all about it.

You can find me on YouTube HERE or Facebook HERE or Twitter HERE or watch my TEDx Talk HERE.

Grammatical errors & misspellings complements of dyslexia : — )