Advice on Selecting the Right Mentor by Denis Waitley

Denis WaitleyFinding coaches and mentors is an important mission, and you will no doubt have several over the course of your life.

It is critical that you choose them wisely. Your mentor is someone to whom you’ll be committing a great deal of time and attention, and who ideally will take a very focused interest in you as well.

The process of selecting a mentor begins, first of all, with a clear-sighted view of what your life’s goals are, both for your career and your personal life.

If you’re just starting out as an associate in a large law firm, you might choose one of the senior partners as your mentor, or perhaps a partner in another firm you’re familiar with. If you’re just starting a family, and you’re facing the lifestyle adjustments that kids require, your mentor could very likely be someone who is reaching the other end of this very exciting, but demanding, process. In any case, your mentors should be people whose experience can serve as a model for reaching your most significant goals in the most important areas of your life.

Selecting a mentor is not just a matter of finding someone you like or feel comfortable identifying with. Make sure that the mentors you choose have a genuine history of success. I’m continually amazed by the number of people who look to only superficially successful people as role models for achievement. Even experts can make conspicuous mistakes of judgment in this area.

The next time you’re in a bookstore or library, take a look at the best-selling books on business and management from four or five years ago. There’s an excellent chance that some of the companies cited as models of efficiency are now out of business. I don’t bring this up to disparage anyone’s business expertise, but simply to point out the need for great care in selecting a coach whose success will stand the test of time.

In addition to selecting your coaches based on their ability to achieve goals similar to your own, choose mentors who in the process have overcome some of the same obstacles you’re facing. Ideally, a mentor really represents both what you want to become in a particular area of life and what you want to do. Seeing your mentors today is like seeing what you intend to be. The coach has arrived at or been to places similar to where you want to go.

Choosing a celebrity or public figure as a mentor is a very questionable decision. If at all possible, select a mentor with whom you can actually spend time and with whom you enjoy having conversations and exploring ideas.

Of course, you can have admired historical personages, authors, educators, or artists as role models. If you discover someone with whom you feel a special affinity, make an effort to obtain everything that person has written or said. Really become a student of the person’s work and life. Don’t just admire him or her; genuinely learn from him or her, as I have learned from the life and wisdom of Benjamin Franklin.

One of the most interesting aspects of selecting a mentor is the fact that one can rarely separate people’s tangible achievements from the qualities of their character. More than their bank accounts or their real estate holdings, role models prove by the conduct of their lives that they’re worth emulating.

To your success,
Denis Waitley
Denis Waitley is one of America’s most respected authors, keynote lecturers and productivity consultants on high performance human achievement. Learn more about his program The New Dynamics of Goal Setting

-In your opinion what are some important things to remember when choosing a mentor? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

PS. If you found the article you just read helpful — be sure to join our free motivation newsletter!

Scroll to Top