This past week, a mentor of mine, serial entrepreneur and Leadership and Communication Professor at IESE Business School, Conor Neill, left a comment on my blog that read, “My mentor taught me that you have to get clear in 3 areas of your life; clarity of vision, certainty of action, and values.”
This the past week, a friend from high school, who now runs a successful Venture Capitalist firm, ended our call by saying, “I am glad that I have been of help. I am also in a tough situation at the moment, and recently my mentor taught me the same lesson. I am glad that I had a chance to pass it on.”
This past week, my father told me that an article I had written was good, but that it needed to be cut by 70%. When I asked him why, he replied, “When I was just starting out, my mentor taught me to cut a 45 minute presentation down to 3 minutes and 45 seconds, resulting in my superiors commending me for telling them only what they needed to know and nothing more.”
Three separate conversations, regarding three entirely different topics, yet hidden inside each of them, lies the most powerful words a mentor can say to you; “My mentor taught me.”
In each of the cases above, my mentors were passing down pieces of advice that they themselves were given by their mentors.
By seeking out just one person who holds you to a higher standard than you hold yourself, you gain not only one perspective, but the perspectives of the people who have impacted their lives and helped them to carve out successful careers.
Author of “Mastery,” Robert Greene´s metaphor for mastering a skill is, “Making your way to the inside”. He believes that as we begin something new, we are on the outside looking in, and it is not until we put in the work, learn the details, and experience the good and the bad, do we begin making our way into the “inside.”
The same can be said for our relationships.
Yesterday marked the third time that I spoke with someone whom I greatly admire.
The first time we spoke, we talked about our “what´s” — what we do, what we have done, and what we plan to do.
The second time we spoke we talked about our “how´s” — how we got to where we are, and how our failures and successes affected us along the way.
Yesterday, our third conversation, we went straight into the good stuff: our “WHY´s”.
He told me that his “why” for moving to a video based blog, instead of a written one, was because it speeds up the process of having impactful conversations with new people he meets.
Since people feel like they already know him, instead of talking about steps one and two, (“what´s” & “how´s”), people go straight into their, “why´s.” and meaningful conversations follow (best “why” I have heard yet).
But as the conversation progressed I learned that the root for having the desire to do this in the first place, was from watching his father captivate audiences and build meaningful relationships when he was younger, and thinking to himself, “I want to learn how to do that.” The rest of the conversation was filled with him sharing his, “my mentor taught me” stories, giving me insight into not only one successful person´s journey, but two.
As soon as I heard him say the words, “my mentor taught me”, I knew that our relationship had moved onto the next level.
The first time we met we were contacts.
The second time, acquaintances.
But, the third time we met, and I heard those words, “my mentor taught me”, I felt a shift occur, signalling that trust had been built allowing me to learn from not only him, but the people that helped clear his path.
It has never been easier to get caught up in “the numbers game”. But by focusing on depth and not width, and cultivating the relationships you already have, you may just find the breakthrough you are looking for already exists within your own circle, or the circle just one layer deeper, as you make your way into the “inside.”
After all, the tallest trees have the deepest roots.