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I recently read a blog post from Matthew Taylor at Theflyblog.com regarding mentors. His post asked the question “Where are the Mentors?” Initially, my reaction to his post and to most reader comments posted was agreement with their position: Mentors are difficult to find and seem to have a bit of an attitude. I still don’t disagree but upon further reflection, I agree differently.

As a good post will do, it made me think about the subject. I pondered the different mentors I have had in my life. There were those that I entered into a student/mentor relationship with formally and there were those that probably had no idea they were a mentor to me.

The latter group, were people I admired, looked up to and who seemed to be successful in their life or career path. I observed them, emulated them and learned from their actions and behavior. I analyzed their decisions and tried to understand their thought processes. They taught me many lessons and gave me good tools. I liked them and enjoyed being around them.

My formal mentors were very different. I had to prove to them my ability or skill, that I was willing to do the homework they assigned, that I was committed to the work itself, genuine in my desire and willing to invest in the process. This meant there was an exchange of either money or work for their knowledge and time. That is the rub for most students. The exchange rate may be too high.

My mentors shared with me their information, skills, strengths, beliefs and stories of success and failure. I also experienced their weaknesses, vulnerabilities, flaws and bad behavior. They put me through my paces, made high demands and at times gave little guidance. All of these things taught me immeasurable lessons and gave me real tools to work with. They weren’t easy lessons to learn but I was a willing student. It was worth every cent I paid and sacrifice I made.

Good mentors have strong boundaries and are successful, busy people. They are also some of the most giving folks I know. They get asked constantly to give of their time, talent and treasure and they do so willingly. They are passionate about their success and love to share their passion with others.

They also get asked all the time about how they achieved their success. Just like the author Matthew Taylor mentions at the beginning of his article who was asked, “How do you get a book published?” Her response was not well received by the hopeful new authors in the audience. It was, “Write the best book you can and get an agent.”

The author’s response was succinct and accurate. Did she offer up her agent’s number or tell the audience the secret to getting published? No, but in her response is the answer. It is hard work, perseverance, commitment and determination.

My father in law is a highly successful businessman. People ask him all the time how he became so successful. He willingly tells them. When asked why he gives the information so freely, he offers up this response: Very, very few will act on the information. Even fewer are willing to take the risks necessary to succeed.

As humans in this rat race of a world, we are all looking for the magic formula, the easy way to accomplish a goal, or the key that will unlock our instant success. Perhaps life teaches us that the magic is in the process. So maybe a better question might be; are you willing to take a risk, invest in your work and be a dedicated student? The old saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears” I believe to be true.

Lisa Joiner

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© Lisa Joiner and HighRoadpost, 2014 Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lisa Joiner and HighRoadPost.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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