If you Google “Mentorship”, one of the first images to appear is Yoda mentoring Luke Skywalker from “Empire Strikes Back”. [Side note: it could simply be Google’s spyware adjusting the search results based on my favorite sci-fi movie…sorry Trekkies] Yoda’s picture is apt for a mentor. Luke wanted to learn more about the Force. He had the abilities, he just needed to be pointed in the right direction, the path to Jedi Mastery illuminated.
Mentors have first hand experience. They have lived what they are teaching. Yoda fought in many wars, most recently, we saw him fight in the Clone Wars. He did lose a battle and banished himself to Dagobah, only to further hone his skills.
When Luke Skywalker came along, Yoda did not simply say “This is what you need to do,” but rather illuminated the path Luke needed to take to learn the ways of the force. Luke still needed to follow the path by himself.
Modern day mentors are very similar to Yoda. They have made mistakes, they have won victories and also suffered defeats (although not generally at the hands of Dark Jedi). Mentors do not do the work for you, they illuminate your path. You still have to do the work.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve begun to understand the importance of mentors. Why struggle to reinvent the wheel when someone has already created a great wheel? Ask them to share their wheel and build on their invention. I’ve been purchasing and managing rental properties for a little over a year at this point. I’ve read a lot on the subject, I follow the BiggerPockets.com blog, and I am always curious how other local investors look at their investments. However, I had never asked someone to be a mentor.
For roughly a year, I’ve had real casual conversations with a friend of mine about rental properties and entrepreneurship in general. I knew my friend owns quite a few rental properties, he had also created a variety of businesses in the past, and his goals and general outlook on life roughly parallel my views. He and I were on a trip to Memphis recently and we talked more deeply about business.
As he and I were talking, my mind began to connect the dots. The first dot: My friend has a healthy view of life. The second dot: My friend owns a bunch of local rental properties. The third dot: My friend has created a variety of businesses over the years. At some point on our trip to Memphis, it hit me “This guy should be my mentor.”
About a week after we returned, I approached my friend and explained what I was looking for, what I hoped to gain and how I thought his experiences could help me. He agreed.
I plan to meet with him on a relatively frequent basis (once a month or so) to review progress over the past month and plans for the next month and next quarter. I will be sharing my long term goals along with my intermediate and long term goals. I’m really looking forward to working with my friend in this capacity.
Who can you ask to be your mentor?