Finding a virtual mentor is easier than you think
It has been said, that leaders read and readers lead. This axiom is a constant challenge for me, and yet encourages me also. Like most leaders, I’m challenged to read enough to continue learning. But why is reading so important?
One of the men I have learned the most from, is a first century Jew called Saul of Tarsus. Most people would be more familiar with his other name, the apostle Paul from the Bible. This makes perfect sense, since I have a Christian worldview. His life and writings have had a deep impact on my life.
Your worldview might be different than mine, but the point is that you should find virtual mentors.
Reading is one of the best ways to be influenced by a virtual mentor. Let me be clear in my definition of a virtual mentor. There are service providers who will link you with a mentor who is situated in a different geography than you are in. This will be a person you can speak to or connect with using various electronic tools such as video conferencing and instant messaging. These are called virtual mentors, because you use electronic tools to communicate with them.
However, I define a virtual mentor as a person with whom you don’t have any direct two-way communication. This makes the pool of potential virtual mentors much larger. Let’s say you are a student of military strategy, you may want to read biographies of Alexander the Great and Winston Churchill, or your can read The Art of War. If you’re a student of value investing, you might read The Intelligent Investor, or Warren Buffet’s annual letter to the shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway. I have previously said that to get the most out of a mentorship relationship, you should seek to go deep and narrow rather than wide and shallow.
This may seem to be contradicted by an April 2016 Harvard Business Review article saying: “Having a mentor has always helped with professional development and career advancement, but in today’s complex workplace, one mentor alone often won’t do.” I believe that you can have balance between these two seemingly contradictory statements. While it is true that you need mentors in more than one area of life, you also don’t want to spread yourself so thin that you don’t benefit from these mentors.
An alternative, or rather complimentary approach, would be to pick a couple of transformational areas to focus on continuously. Thereafter, you can select specific areas of interest and find an excellent mentor for the selected area. Once you’ve explore a selected area sufficiently, you can move on to the next area of interest. Throughout this process, you’d keep the transformational or core areas constant.
Leadership development, time management and goal achievement are three areas for transformational change for which I would encourage every person to find virtual mentors. Based on the shear volume of information they have made available to the public, if would suggest exploring the following two virtual mentors:
John Maxwell is one of North America’s leading authors and teachers on leadership. John has build an organization that is solely dedicated to the development of leaders, who in turn will develop other leaders. He has written multiple best-selling books and his organization hosts various training conferences each year. If you haven’t read any of John’s books or listened to his podcasts, you are certainly missing an opportunity for personal growth. You might consider starting with what is arguably John’s most well-known book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.
Michael Hyatt is the past CEO of a large book publisher. Michael is also a sought after public speaker and author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal best selling books. Since leaving his CEO job, Michael has build an online platform providing teaching in four main topics; personal development, productivity, leadership and influence. I have found Michael’s material on productivity and how to set and achieve big goals to be some of the best I’ve tried. It is no surprise then that Michael has even gone so far to brand himself as “your virtual mentor”.
There are many other well-known mentors such as Tony Robbins, Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, Darren Hardy. I’m also partial to finding at least one dead mentor. What I like about that is you can get a complete view of their life. You can see if they started strong, but faded later in life or stay strong to the end. I encourage you to find a dead virtual mentor in your area of interest, then study their life and writings.
You now have three groups of mentors to approach. Part one provided a summary for the four-part series. Part two discussed superiors as mentors and part three provided tips to get the most from aspirational leaders. This last post closes the series by discussing the benefits from having virtual mentors. So, now you have no excuses left to limit your personal development.