We are all mentors to some degree, to someone. We might call it being a friend or a parent or a partner, but every time you dish out practical advice to someone that they can capitalize on, you are mentoring them whether you know it or not. When you think about it, you know that your advice and suggestions came from personal experience and encounters that created your paradigm in how you interpret the world around you. As you embody the advice, you also tend to share it with those who come seeking it. Brian Carruthers, a serial entrepreneur and a revered mentor in the entrepreneur community, believes that an experienced mentor can help you redefine your journey as an entrepreneur. Simply put, a mentor is your short cut to success.
Late Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen in his song Sisters of Mercy said, “I’ve been where you’re hanging, I think I can see where you’re pinned.” It’s one of the best ways to sum up the relationship between you and your mentor. According to Brian, “If life is a journey, then a mentor is someone who has already been in the same place as his/her mentees. He/she knows the landscape, the pitfalls, the secret pathways, the secluded gardens, and more along the way. When a young entrepreneur hits a roadblock, they need to realize that they aren’t alone, nor is the place where they are stuck in entrepreneurial quicksand. Being a mentor is essentially like being a teacher in school who is handing you a cheat-sheet with the answers to the test. If you don’t know the answer, why guess and get it wrong if the teacher is giving it to you?” A good mentor won’t just give you the answers though, and steal away your opportunity to learn. He/she may even let you learn some lessons the hard way, while remaining as a safety net below you so you won’t fall too far.
An experienced mentor has many eyes, so to speak. They have been there and done that and have benefited from broadening their horizons, thanks to years of networking and collaborating. This, as Brian puts it, “can add years to your idea.” He further says, “As a mentor, I don’t expect my mentees to step into my shoes because they can’t. However, I always step into theirs, because I know theirs and I can. For an experienced mentor, all problems are shoe sizes that fit. Whether it’s investment, work-life balance, scaling up, time management, image renewal, transformation, or what have you, a mentor will use his/her experience to show you the light at the end of the tunnel and then encourage you to walk to it with the confidence only they can give you.”
An experienced mentor relies on his/her understanding of their journey to help you in yours. Brian, who has had a stellar career as an entrepreneur, has gathered many useful insights to help aspiring entrepreneurs in their journey. Follow him and he can take you far.