I get a fair number of emails asking amount finding the right mentor; fellas asking if I can tell them how to get a mentor or if I can in some way mentor them, it’s after reading the question that I break the news that I’ve never really had a real, solid mentor before, just friends who I bounce ideas off of, and books. (Like These: 5 Books Every Guy Should Read)
Books are, by in large, my mentors. And while I’d love for the right mentor to come along, I’m not going to hound someone to take me under their wing, nor am I going to turn a blind eye to the fact that I can have Robert E Lee as my mentor if I simply buy a book about him or that Napoleon can be my mentor one week, and Christ, the next.
Lincoln has been my mentor, as has Churchill. Eric Greitens is my mentor right now, and Epictetus is next on the list. I’ve had Marcus Aurelius as my mentor, as well as Seneca; Joseph Campbell and Greg McKoewn; Chris Kyle and Paulo Coelho. Mark Owen has been my mentor and John Eldridge before him. Louie Zamperini is one of my favorite mentors, but so was Viktor Frankl.
I’ve learned a lot from the likes of Dale Carnegie and Henry David Thoreau. Steven Pressfield taught me about “turning pro”, and Emerson taught me about self-reliance. Napoleon Hill helped forge my idea what what “rich” truly is and the stoics continue to be my guides through a world that places value on things that lack value, importance on this that are unimportant and praise on things that serve no purpose.
Seth Godin taught me about marketing and story telling, Greitens about resilience and what it means to truly live a life of service. David Deida taught me about those very confusing and beautiful beings that are women, and Theodore Roosevelt showed me what it means to be a man. Hemingway taught me how to write, though I’m still barely a novice and Dan Kennedy, the same. Tony Dungy showed me true wisdom, the Apostles, true grace.
I do not discount the importance of having a good mentor, their value cannot be measured, but I also understand that we can’t all find one, and looking for one is simply not the way to go about doing it.
If you really want a mentor, be of service.
If you want to learn from someone, offer value and continue offering value as often and as frequently as possible. Don’t ask them to be your mentor. If they’re in any way successful they won’t have time to take you under their wing unless you’re taking some load off their back.
But also read.
A while ago I wrote an article called “30 books to read before you hit 30”.
It’s an awesome list filled with the books that have changed my life and kept me motivated, however, I’ve obviously continued to read since then and I have some others I’d like to add and a couple I’d like to highlight further.
On Focusing on the Right Things
The majority of us focus on the non-essential, as such, we spend time and energy focusing on things that do not enhance our lives. Here are books that will help you focus on the right things, bringing more energy into your life, and more purposefulness as well.
We all go through trials because we need them. Tough times aren’t optional, they’re both a constant and they’re required because they make us tougher and better. The man who has no strife, no tribulation and only ease cannot hold the jockstrap of the fella who’s been through hell but continued trudging along.
Read these books to understand how to use your struggles for good.
Two other books that I highly recommend, especially for men looking to improve and grow are Homer’s, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Both are profound works that, when you step back and examine them, show you how to wade through strife.
Mentor-ship is a great thing, but you don’t need to find some perfect, idyllic mentor to learn from some of the greatest men in history, you just have to pick up a book and start reading.