How To Find A Mentor: Start By Stopping To Look For Them

All of us know how important it is to have some advisors and mentors in our lives.

After a lot of trial and errors, I have come to realize that the best way to find mentors for yourself  is -- 

Not to look for one. 

Let me explain what makes me say so.

For quite some time, I was consciously on a hunt for finding mentors. I did not know how to find one. But, I knew I wanted one.

I had no idea who to look for and who qualifies as a mentor. 

I wanted mentors that form my core circle as described by Porter Gale in her book Your Network Is Your Net Worth.

Having a mentality of finding mentors while approaching interactions with people actually makes it much for difficult to actually get close to finding one. Often times, I would just dismiss someone. I would do that based off of my preconceived notions of what mentors are like. 

I kept trying. I got no results. 

After getting frustrated, I decided to chuck the entire notion of finding mentors. I got on with my normal life. 

Now, when I reflect on past couple months, I realize I have a strong inner circle of mentors.

I was looking for one mentor before. I have many now. 

Here are the key takeaways -- 

  • I started engaging in deeper interactions with a lot of people. I went past the small talk. I asked a lot of people about their work and tried to help them out. Doing so got them invested in my life. I unknowingly took the first step to finding a mentor with everyone I engaged with.
  • Mentor-Mentee relations cannot be forced. Such connections of mutual trust and comfort take time. I did not even realize that I was getting closer to finding mentors day by day by just being interested, curious and resourceful.
  • Finding a mentor is not like finding a date where you just ask someone out. You cannot walk up to someone and go "Will you be my mentor?". Its a gradual process where the mentee starts to feel a deeper connection with the mentor. No agreements are signed for solidifying mentor-mentee relationships.
  • It is important to have mentors from different age groups, industries and backgrounds. This facilitates a deeper understanding of whatever issue you are facing from varied angles. Each of my mentors has different life experiences. Their diverse skill-set, knowledge and connections have made my inner circle very enriching. I have one that is a reputable author. One runs a non-profit and one is into consulting and startups. Another is a very experienced PR person.
  • Great mentors can emerge out of nowhere. You cannot plan how you would find them. I literally made a mentor out of a google search. (Click here for the story). I met one while coordinating a project between her and a couple of my friends. You find one at places where you would least expect. 

You cannot judge who will turn out to be a good mentor. It isn't until after someone has truly gotten invested in your personal growth that you realize through reflection that you have a mentor.