From time-to-time there are vigorous discussions regarding the topic of “mentors”. The comments run the gambit from… Do I need one? To how do I find one? To should I pay?… well you get the picture.
A more recent article on the subject was from one of my favorite authors to the BiggerPockets Blog, Jeff Brown, aptly titled I Can Do That! No, Sorry, You Probably Can’t – Wannabes and Mentorship, is a great read.
Jeff gets it! He understands that for most everyone striving to achieve high levels of excellence, more then hard work is required. It requires the insight and knowledge of those who have mastered their craft and gone before those just starting out.
I believe that most real estate investors get it also. They know that to achieve their goals they need the very knowledge and insight of those who have gone before them. Yet, based on almost all of the posts I have read regarding BP members trying to find a mentor… it is obvious to me that they are going about their search for a mentor all wrong.
(A point of clarification… when I speak of a mentor I am referring to a relationship where the mentor is not being directly compensated by the individual being mentored)
Shortly after Jeff’s article posted and just before I headed off to bed, I sat down to read the article and the comments. The comments often times are as entertaining as the articles. After I posted my comment I headed off to bed for what I thought would be sound sleep. WRONG! About an hour later I am wide awake pondering why mentors are so darned hard to find! Thanks Jeff for that sleepless night.
And now for my Eureka moment!
Have you ever given any serious thought to who your first mentor was? How about your parents, grandparents, an aunt or uncle; perhaps an older sibling.
What happened as you started to move from home, spending more time in school – especially junior and senior high. Who were your mentors then? A favorite teacher, a coach, perhaps your first employer?
And if you headed off to college who were your mentors? Again your professors or coaches or masters or doctorate candidates?
And finally the workplace . . . perhaps your supervisor or boss saw something in you that they wanted to help you to further develop, so they willingly shared their knowledge and made the right introductions. As you advanced in your career you may have even found yourself on the other side to the equation, where you were now mentoring those who worked for you.
As I lay awake thinking through each of these stages of our lives, it dawned on me that when it comes to mentors there is a common thread. Can you guess what it is?
I believe the common thread regarding mentors in our lives is that these individuals were first in our lives through an existing relationship, and the mentoring relationship grew out of it.
This is what I laid awake half the night contemplating. Did you get it?
In all these situations that I’ve covered, a pre-existing relationship existed before any mentoring started, and I would point out that in every situation described above, the relationship did not include having to pay someone for their assistance. The only requirement was the relationship.
For those of you hoping a mentor is going to fall out of a tree and make all of your real estate worries vanish, this is profound.
Let me repeat it one more time just in case you missed it…
“these individuals were first in our lives through an existing relationship, and the mentoring relationship grew out of it”
Now for the action plan!
For those investors desperately seeking a mentor, if you are seeking a mentor first, you are going about it BASS-ACKWARDS!
If you would like a mentor to come into your life, instead of your search being all about you and your needs how about this:
- Worry first about establishing a relationship with those who you would like to learn from.
- Make yourself valuable in a way that is meaningful (profitable) to the other person.
- Don’t expect anything in return.
- Always be thinking win-win — not just what’s in it for me.
- Most successful investors are willing to assist… but only after you have proven that you are worthy of their involvement,
- And finally, don’t expect these successful investors to spend time teaching you on the “promise” that you will share a deal with them. They know how challenging this business can be, and they also know that they may spend an inordinate amount of time teaching someone who then does nothing. Don’t believe me? Ask almost any successful investor and they will tell you.
So there you have it –my Eureka moment: when it comes to mentors the relationship must always come first!