For those of you that are racking your brain on what to ask for this holiday season, I have an idea you should get for yourself…mentors.  Mentors serve a very important role in our lives. Not just in our professional life but our personal life as well.  People that have accomplished what you are hoping to accomplish will help you navigate the pitfalls and roadblocks of your journey. Everyone agrees we learn from our mistakes. The best way to tip the odds in your favor is to get an edge by leveraging the experience of others. Unless you have the great fortune to come across someone that is 100% wired like you are, it is important to have multiple mentors for the different areas of your life.  Who has accomplished parts of life that you aspire and admire? Professionally, spiritually, work/life balance, physically, etc.  Take the time to think about areas that you would like to improve on and then map out whom you know that will help you get there.

The next step is how do you find people that could help in the journey.  The best place to start is your network of folks that you know.  Ask around, search LinkedIn and other resources.  Take advantage of your college and industry networking events and talk to people.  Ask your contacts to put you in touch with people.  Once you have identified that person, don’t be nervous to ask for help. A simple sentence like, “John, I really am impressed with how you have grown your business and I would love to be able to pick your brain as I start in my new endeavor.”  You will be surprised at how open people are to have a conversation.

Once you have identified some mentors there are a few things to keep in mind.  You are building a relationship with this person and don’t over abuse their kindness.  Allow them to dictate the amount of time they will spend with you. Show your appreciation by following through on their advice and recommendations. A mentor will be more willing to continue to help and stay by your side for years to come if you execute their advice to greatness. You will achieve bonus points if you take their advice and add to it.

Mentors are gifts that continue to give for years and decades to come. That lasts a lot longer than any techno gadget and much more fulfilling.