June 6th, 2011 Archive

How to be wise

June 6th, 2011 by Ric in Lifestyle, Sharing Success

“Wise men learn by other men’s mistakes, fools by their own.”

The exact words may seem a bit harsh, but the point is clear. We can learn so much from others that can help us avoid their mistakes. Sure, nothing drives a lesson home better than personal experience, but the lesson probably doesn’t change anyway – it just stings a bit more.

Annetta Powell explains this better than I can in her Healthy Wealthy nWise article listing Five Good Reasons for Having a Mentor. One reason she cites is that “a mentor can help you reduce mistakes.” She explains that “you do not need to fail to learn and gain wisdom. A good mentor will show you that his failures are enough for you to avoid mistakes.”

The catch is that “it takes a lot of introspection on your part to fully absorb the depth of failure.” Like I mentioned, personal experience is a great teacher, but with the proper attitude and a bit of introspection, you can learn a lot (and save yourself a lot of pain) by listening to your mentor.

This, of course, begs the question: who is your mentor? Quite possibly, the better question might be this: who should be your mentor? Bill Bartmann has some suggestions on How to Select Your Mentor, also up on Healthy Wealthy nWise.

1. Identify the right mentor for you.
Bill wants you to ask yourself this question: “who’s a knowledgeable expert doing what I want to do who would be kind enough to share what they have with me?” You want to find “someone who knows something, or has done something that you want to know or that you want to be able to do. The idea is that you want to learn something – and you have to find a mentor that can teach you that.

2. Do your due diligence.
When somebody asks Bill Bartmann to be his mentor, Bill asks “why would I want to do that? What would be a compelling reason? What would be my incentive?” His point is that your relationship with your mentor is not a one-way street. Your mentor has to know what you bring to the table too. Do you belong to the same groups or organizations? Do you support the same causes or have any shared interests? Basically, what reasons would he have to spend a significant amount of time with you

3. Determine your specific request.
Bill shares two possible requests he could receive. The first is this:
“Bill, will you be my mentor?”

The second: “Bill, I want you to be my mentor; I want 10 minutes a month with you. And, if you’ll spend 10 minutes a month mentoring me, I promise you that I will in turn spend 10 minutes a month mentoring someone else in the future.”

The difference between the two requests is that the second one quantifies the request and at the same time addresses the mentor’s goals and interests.

Bill explains that asking for 10 minutes a month means that “you’re not going to be calling me every day, interrupting my life, and taking up my time with my wife.” You are asking for something specific. As the relationship grows, the time you spend with your mentor could also grow, but at the beginning, the boundaries must be clear.

Bill emphasizes that he is “on a mission to help people.” The second request makes it clear that you want to help him achieve that goal. Your prospective mentor may have different goals, and your request should address those specific goals.

If you clicked through to read Annetta Powell’s reasons for having a mentor, you probably don’t need to be sold on the merits of having a mentor. However, I’d like to share a few more with you. Ann Rolfe explains why Mentoring Makes Sense in another Healthy Wealthy nWise article.

“It always helps to know you’re not alone and someone is one your side,” Ann explains, “so having a mentor when entering unknown territory will reduce any sense of isolation or overwhelm you may be feeling.” This may be the second greatest thing a mentor gives you.

You’re probably asking, what’s the greatest thing a mentor gives you?

Ann says that “a good mentor understands that you need to make your own decisions.” Your mentor “may offer hints, suggestions, encouragement, support and a different point of view,” but ultimately allows you to choose what you want to do.

This means that your mentor allows you to learn from his mistakes, but also allows you, if you insist on it, to make your own. The question is, who would be foolish enough to do that?

Until the next lesson,

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