My business was growing and so was my self-doubt. And my fears. I was having too many sleepless nights and I just couldn’t shake the niggling feeling that work, family, mental health – life in general – weren’t quite as I thought they should be.
I couldn’t put my finger on it but I knew I needed someone to lean on, an ‘outsider’ with the gift of objectivity to keep me positive, help me deal with my fears and help me keep my business on track.
Perhaps right now as a business leader you feel the same.
Perhaps like me you let your fears of looking weak and your lack of confidence stop you doing anything about it.
In my case, my head was telling me I was too old to change, that I should be able to sort myself out and get a grip. I was genuinely concerned that people would think less of me as a leader if I asked for help.
On top of that I was embarrassed. There was self-doubt, the fear of rejection and no shortage of pride, all of which got in the way of me doing what I knew was the right thing to do.
I did eventually get the help I needed and it completely transformed every aspect of my life but I shouldhave asked for it and done so sooner.
There are too many leaders suffering in silence in the same way, their businesses, relationships and well-being compromised as a result. We all know someone like that.
If that’s you, or someone you know, let me share with you how I got the help I needed and the difference it made to me in the hope that it will encourage you to put aside your fears, preconceptions – and your ego – and ask for help!
A few years ago a perceptive friend told me out of the blue that he thought I needed a mentor. It was just what I needed to hear and the perfect time to hear it.
I’ll admit it took some effort to put aside my own inhibitions and insecurities and find the courage to say ‘please help me’ to a stranger but I knew I couldn’t go on as I was. And anyway, I realised that I had nothing to lose and everything to gain so I took that leap of faith and sought out a mentor.
If any of this resonates with you, make now the right time for you to do the same.
Seek out someone you admire, respect and trust, someone who can be a great listener with real empathy and a genuine desire to make a difference, and who will ask the right, and sometimes challenging questions in a non-judgmental way.
Great mentors are nearly always found through recommendation. They’re rare. Demand invariably exceeds supply.
If you still have your doubts, remember this: It’s only human to believe that we’re the only ones to feel as we do. The fact is that in one form or another we all experience the same fears, anxiety and insecurities. In that sense, we really are all in it together and we can all benefit from having that external support.
Good mentors are just trusted strangers you haven’t yet met, people with experience of life, business and of all the pitfalls and curved balls, people with insight and an innate desire to help.
None of us is too wise, too old or too important to need and benefit from a critical friend, one that gives us their undivided, non-judgemental timeless attention. One that gets heir satisfaction just from helping others.
So whatever is still holding you back from seeking out someone to be your mentor, for your own sake and sanity, and for everyone you care about, follow your intuition, put aside all those irrational thoughts – and your ego – and make that call.
Get it right and I can almost guarantee that it will be as life-changing for you as it has been for me.
I based a TEDx talk on my own experience of finding a mentor. I’ve made a point of mentioning his name – Alan Mullett – and his impact on my life in every talk, speech, lecture I’ve ever delivered, and every blog I’ve ever produced on the subject. That’s how much it mattered. It’s also my way of saying ‘thank you’.
I want to do for others what Alan has done for me. That was one of the main reasons I made the scary decision after almost 30 years to leave the business I founded and get involved in mentoring business owners and leaders. I wanted to share what I’d learned in business and from Alan.