I’m a big fan of reading biographies.
A few learning experiences including finding out that there is value in reading autobiographies, those that include the involvement of the main person, but there is also value in biographies. Those that don’t really include input from the main person.
And it’s not even that the main person doesn’t want to share everything. They often don’t want to. But I’ve learned that often people will say one thing and do another.
It’s weird. I even catch myself doing it.
I’ve kind of come to regret going to college and not getting started in business earlier. But then I think that maybe I did exactly what I was supposed to. Someone looking at my career that wants to end up in a similar place may follow my steps exactly.
And that’s good. It’s great if they follow my lead and add their own twist.
That would be an example of finding a Silent Mentor…
What Is A Silent Mentor?
The way I see it a silent mentor is someone that exists or has existed that you use as a guide for your life. Someone you look to for advice. Someone that you observe.
But the silent part is that you don’t have any interaction with them. You learn all you can by observing their actions.
The best advice I’ve gotten in the business world has been the kind that the person giving it hasn’t spoken to me. In fact, when I do receive advice directly from a business leader it’s usually not very good advice.
They say one thing and do another.
But let’s say you’re open to this silent mentorship thing. Finding someone or multiple people you can use as a guiding light for yourself.
Here are a few ways to follow to find them.
1. People Close To You
This one might be the most natural. But you kind of have to fight yourself to not reach out to them too much for direct advice. You want to sit back and observe.
Another thing if you start following the same or similar path is that other people close to you will notice. That can get a little awkward. But another key to the silent mentor thing is not caring what others think of you. You’re on your own mission.
Life is about results. You’re looking for a mentor that has results that you want. Do what they do. Ignore what they say and especially what others say.
Talk is cheap. It’s a cliche for a reason.
2. People In Your Community
You might be surprised at the people you can find right in your community. For me, there is a guy that develops housing communities and builds houses. He started working construction right out of high school. No education. Just got to work and has become one of the most respected business leaders in our community.
I don’t interact with him much, but I observe the moves he makes. I try to dig into his personality. The way he handles certain situations.
There is a lot to learn.
A trick to all this is finding people that are both in and out of your area of interest. In my experience, you can learn from all kinds of people.
And it’s not just about work.
My grandfather was one of the nicest people you would ever meet. He rarely gave advice. He was a great listener. A great person to talk with. He asked a lot of questions.
I don’t think he knew it, but I wanted to be like him in that way. I tried to take in and learn everything I could about his personality. People liked and respected him. Who wouldn’t want that?
There are people in your community that are successful. Those that do it legally. Those that respect others. If you look for them you’ll find them.
3. People You Read About
This has been a big one for me. Reading about people.
I would say that a recent one is James J. Hill. I had no idea he had existed. Then I discovered his book somewhere. I checked it out at the library and loved it. I learned a lot about business from reading about him.
You can learn from autobiographies and biographies. The key is finding the traits and actions that lead to desired results. Anything that sounds good, but that doesn’t lead to results should be ignored. It’s just BS.
4. People In Unfamiliar Places
This one requires some work. To find people in unfamiliar places you have to get out of your comfort zone. You have to attend networking events. You have to try new things.
Volunteer. Get a different job. Travel to new and weird places. Talk to people when you travel. It doesn’t even need to be that far away.
Just put yourself in unfamiliar places. What you’ll notice is that your mind will play a neat trick on you. When you’re in new settings you notice all kinds of things. You’re already setup to observe people and that’s the whole point of the silent mentorship thing.
5. Your Own Path
You can also look at others and decide that you want something different. Let’s say the people you’re observing in your situation aren’t the people you want to be like.
You can use that as motivation. You can do the opposite of what they’re doing. It can work really well. If someone is struggling in life they give off key indicators of poor decision making.
Do the opposite. You don’t necessarily need to have good mentors. You can learn from the decisions and actions of others to guide your own future.
We often think that a mentorship needs to be this close relationship. It could be, but in my experience it’s almost better if you never interact with your mentors. Simply find people that you want to be like and observe their actions. Look at the actions and how those actions lead to results.
Take the good from multiple people. Identify what bad actions are. From that you can start creating your own path to the life you want to have.