The Accelerating Power of Mentorship

by Clay Slaton, an EO Oklahoma member and CEO of EngATech Inc.

When it comes to success in any area of life, mentorship plays an integral role. As an entrepreneur, I knew I could achieve more if I created relationships with those that blazed the trail before me. However, two big things kept me from having mentors in my life: pride and fear. Circling my mind were thoughts that always seemed to gum up the process: “I’ve looked for mentors, but I just haven’t found anyone right,” (pride), and “If I have a mentor, then who am I to them? A leech? A pest? A task?” (fear).

Both limiting thoughts were a result of my lack of knowledge. Unfortunately, this kept the accelerating power of mentorship out of my life. When it came to my pride, I didn’t understand that a mentor didn’t have to be ahead of me in all areas of interest. I later realized that a mentor could be defined as someone that is at least one step ahead of you in at least one area of life. I knew pride was holding me back when I began to think, “I’m so humble, I desire mentors in my life. I just haven’t found anyone smart enough yet.” Wow, what a contradiction!

As for my fear, I didn’t understand what a mutually beneficial mentor/protégé relationship could look like. I thought it was a one-sided arrangement, and feared the mentor would be helping me out more than I could help him or her. As I assume is common with most entrepreneurs, I did not want to simply take from anyone, but instead earn or exchange for what I get in life. It wasn’t until I learned that a real mentorship is a mutually beneficial two-way street, that I was able to overcome this hurdle.

After shining the light on my fear and pride, I found potential mentors popping up all around me. And those that didn’t pop up, I researched through networking and the Internet. I was eager to find those that were “where I wanted to be” or “had what I wanted to have.” The first one was a speaker at a conference I was attending, and I simply asked if I could buy him lunch. Once I found him, the next obstacle was learning how to create a formal mentor/protégé relationship.

Well, what sounded extremely difficult turned out to be pretty easy as I put it into practice. It can be summed up in one word: serve. I used the same skills I use in business to find out what my potential mentor’s needs, desires, goals or passions were, and I found ways to help. From there, it was just a matter of using my creativity to fill a need or help him achieve a goal. I filled in at speaking engagements, I served at his non-profit, I advised when asked, I connected him with people— whatever I could do to access his experience!

I was amazed at how easy it was to get one-on-one time just by adding value to his life. After showing that I would bring value to his vision, I plainly asked, “Would you be willing to exchange your service as my mentor for my service as a protégé?” He agreed. I’ve been concentrating on serving, honoring, valuing and heeding what he brings into my life ever since.

Today, mentorship is now the single-biggest catalyst in the growth of my business. As a result, my company has grown from 14 to 78 percent year after year! As the old saying goes, an intelligent man will learn from his mistakes, but a wise man from others.

Categories: Inspirational Management members

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