Hack your career.. sort of
Updated: Sep 15, 2018
All incredibly successful people have had mentors in their life. Even unsuccessful people have mentors..
If you are fortunate enough to know what you want to do in life, the very next thing you should be working on is realizing that.
And in order to do that successfully you must have mentors. Because no matter what you are trying to accomplish odds are someone has either done it, or has valuable information to help you try.
But it's 2018.. the mentor, mentee relationship you may have in mind is rare.
That isn't to say you cant find a great mentor who you can work with in person, learn from, and build off their successes while they guide you along.. but it's unlikely.
You probably have many mentors right now, and you might not have realized.
This is because who you read, listen to, look up to consistently end up being your mentors. They don't have to be in person.
What not to do:
Do not approach someone you look up to and ask them to mentor you.
Do not approach someone telling them you want a job and will work for free, without knowing what you can do, or what your mentor needs.
Do not be lazy
Do not look for ideal situations, look for small opportunities with relatively low risk and high upside. (Relatively low risk means, if you're 45, married, have 3 kids, and support your family with your income, you will be more accurate in thinking you can't take a very low-paying job that you might lose. If you are 30 or under, have the potential to live almost rent-free if needed, and can survive on less than $1,000/ a month if need be... almost anything is low risk so don't pass opportunities just because you aren't willing to give up your wants, like expensive cars, housing, and hobbies.)
What to do:
Take advantage of the successful mentors who give away their lessons for free. Read books, listen to podcasts, watch videos from people you respect and want to learn from. These are great examples of finding and using mentors effectively today.
- Books are always under-priced and loaded with valuable knowledge. And when you read consistently you start to learn how to read. Realize that most books are written usually based on maybe 5-10 pages of extremely valuable information. Then based on that information 200+ pages are written, with examples, stories, explanations, filler info etc.. you'll start to find where to skim and where to take your time reading, taking notes and re-reading the real important info. You don’t have to read fast, just read often, and you will be able to take advantage of books.
- Podcasts are easy to use for taking advantage of what might be wasted time, driving/ commutes. Doing laundry, dishes, yard work etc.. And the added bonus is you can listen faster than most people can read so you get through more material. Last, you can re-listen doing different things, and pick up info you might have missed the first time. Some people are in the habit of listening to podcasts on faster speeds, this doesn’t work well for me, I end up needing to re-listen too often to catch what I missed.
- Videos work well if you are a very visual learner and are trying to learn how-to material or understand concepts that can be described with animation or instructional videos. This is where the faster speeds actually work well. With audio its too easy to miss information and have to re-listen, but depending upon what kind of learner you are, watching instructional videos on faster speeds makes it easier to see everything without needing to rewatch much.
These are all great ways to find excellent mentors without ever needing to have a personal face to face relationship with anyone.
How to set yourself up, for a potential, personal mentor, mentee relationship.
- Most people who think they can't find mentors are just being too greedy. If you have a bachelors degree, and the smartest person you know, who you want to learn from needs help cleaning toilets... (for some super hypothetical, exaggerated reason) then you better overlook your own degree and start cleaning toilets immediately. And be the best at it. When it comes to finding a mentor, you must be extremely humble and do the work necessary to learn from a great mentor. Even when the opportunity doesn't always line up with exactly what you want. Just because cleaning toilets isn’t the job you want, or what you want to do in life, doesn’t mean it can’t be the most valuable job you ever take.
Along the same lines, determine the mentor's needs.
- Get over whatever job or thing you want.. what you need is knowledge, wisdom, and experience. Find someone you respect, and determine what their need is. A good start is learning whatever you can about this person. Not in a weird stalker way, just in a respectable, appreciative way. Search them on social media, read their blog, their articles, books, listen to their podcast etc. Get to know them so you can understand what problems they face, what their need is, and how you can address them. If you have a boss you respect, figure out what makes them happy and do that. Find out their biggest problem and solve it. It's often not as complicated as you might think. Even if you don’t ever solve any major issues, the fact that you care and are working on it will not go unnoticed. You have to keep in mind that you might not know what you want to do, or you might change your mind. So just because something doesn’t make sense or align with what you want now, doesn’t mean you should ignore it or that it isn’t valuable to you.
- Even if you hate the work you do now, and want to find another job you have to work hard, consistently. You're not likely to get any great opportunities by slacking and being careless. But if you work hard consistently all types of opportunities will come your way because people will want to work with you.
Which leads me to my next tip,
Take advantage of opportunities.
- Now there are some keys on how to set yourself up better for this like by living below your means and being frugal. This is because what are some of the most common excuses for not taking advantage of oportunites?
"I need to pay my bills or make X amount of dollars to survive." Which is a lie, because most bills, and most of your income probably spills into unecessary spending
"I don't have enough time." Which is also a lie, because you probably just choose to waste time doing things you don't truly care about. Like working at a job that requires more and more time, for the same or less mo
But if you are smart with your money, and with your time you have no excuse but to take advantage of opportunities that come your way. As Steve Jobs famously said in his Stanford commencement speech, it's impossible to connect the dots looking forward. But it is always obvious how the dots connect when you look back on your life.. or something like that.
You don't know what opportunities will change your life, or where anything will lead you. But if you continue working hard, seeking knowledge, and working to provide value to others I am certain you will find great mentors along the way.
Hopefully you realize, mentors are everywhere giving away information for free. Just because you are not personally an apprentice to someone right now does not mean you can’t have a mentor. You can follow the people you admire on social media, listen to all of their content, read their books, apply their lessons to your life, etc..
Don’t overlook the mentors you have all around you that help you in your everyday life. If there are some people missing that you want to include, than start taking in more information, but otherwise be humble, be consistent, and provide great value to everyone around you. Mentors would love great help from a caring hard-working person just as much as you want a mentor… but they aren’t going to just give away jobs to every person that comes around asking for something. Work everyday on being a great mentee and learning from mentors you already have, using the tools available to you in 2018. Soon enough a personal mentor might find you.
Learn more on this:
Article: Tim Ferriss - The Magic of Apprenticeship
Video: Tim Ferriss - Entrepreneur magazine interview