by Alexander Felice
Contrary to how it may feel, finding people to help you has never been easier. Usually, these people are referred to as “mentors,” and while having these relationships can be life-shaping, it seems to create this pressure around finding a mentor that is more hindrance than help, and it makes people weird sometimes. I’ve noticed under- or non-mentioned perspectives that might be worth mentioning.
4 Things No One Tells You About Finding a Mentor
1. People really do like to help others.
If you talk to enough pessimists and cynics (or are one yourself), you may begin to believe that people are evil—or, at best, just unfriendly. The reality, though, is that the vast majority of people are genuine, and they like to see others do well. The ego boost from success is marginal compared to the ego boost of being so good that you can teach others how to succeed! Try browsing books in the bookstore or on Audible. Take a look at many popular podcasts. How many people are creating free content to help you succeed?
Think about this fact when you’re worried about reaching out to someone. You might feel like you don’t want to waste a person’s time or that they might not respond in kind. These are normal feelings, but that doesn’t make them true. If you ask, almost everyone will try and do at least something to do right by you.
2. You shouldn’t go for the most experienced person you can find.
This one is never talked about, and I think it’s a critical factor in all mentorship. Imagine you’re in a foot race against someone who has a head start. That person is five miles ahead of you, and you definitely can’t see them. How likely are you to dig deep into your determination and sprint to catch up? Not very. It’s demoralizing to try and catch up to someone who feels so far ahead that you can’t see them. Imagine the same scenario, but instead of five miles ahead of you, your competition is only 150 feet in front of you. Now you can see the bottoms of their shoes, and a feeling of motivation surges through you. You can feel the distance between you shrink while you sprint towards them. Your inspiration compounds as you get closer, and you feel your body suddenly able to sprint even faster. The motivation is intoxicating, and suddenly you’ve matched your opponent.
Now let’s bring this to business. If you’re a beginner to real estate and have a small portfolio or are trying to land your first deal, you don’t want to try and chase down someone who is five miles (or 50 units) ahead of you; it’s too discouraging. What you really want is to find someone with a few houses who can relate to you deeply. All the problems you are trying to solve now are ones that they recently solved. If you have not done any deals, trying to get a mentor who is on a vastly different plane of success is going to usually be unproductive. They simply can’t relate to your problems. It’s like asking someone who is over 60 for advice on how to get through high school. What can they say that will actually be helpful?
3. The best relationships aren’t transactional.
People will tell you that to be interesting to a mentor, you must provide value to them. Otherwise, why would a mentor spend any time on you?
The way this advice is so commonly given is misleading. It implies that you should approach the situation as transactional, but great investors know that the best investments are in people, not transactions. Instead of soliciting some valued service in exchange for education, show someone that you’re maximizing your potential and taking action. They will kill to be in on the ground floor. Everyone loves a superstar!
4. You can’t force it.
Great mentorship is no different than any other relationship in that it can’t be forced, and it can’t be one-sided. It only works when both parties want to be a part of it. Just like no happy marriage starts with a kidnapping, no viable mentoring relationship is born out of guilt, sympathy, or fear. (Stockholm Syndrome might work, but I don’t have the personal experience to verify.)
Still, you can’t grow a relationship without effort. You do have to reach out to people often and make a determined effort be nice to them. Making friends is easy! And these days, the internet does all the work for you. Just enter your information into whatever platform you choose, and you can find where all the people you want to be best friends with are already hanging out. Lots of people you can grow with are one helpful post, email, or introduction away. Some of my early mentors that I met on BiggerPockets are now my closest friends.
Lastly, it’s important to know that there are people around who are looking for you. You aren’t alone: Someone has already succeeded doing what you want to do. They are in your town, they are on the internet, and they are willing to help you. Find them, court them, show them you are a sound investment and fun to be friends with, and you’ll have a mentor for life. A great friend will teach you everything they know and happily drag you to success kicking and screaming.
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