Often, I hear that one of the keys to success is ‘Mentorship’. But no one defines what mentorship is and how to find the perfect mentor.
Finding a perfect mentor or mentee is always a challenge. I find it challenging to find a mentor who can take me to the next level. As a mentor, it is a tough process to select good mentees. This entire process can end up feeling like a search for a lifetime if you don’t come up with a structure early on. Sharing my learnings from my experiences in this article for you to pick up what suits you.
How to find the perfect student?
Before I talk about finding the right one, here are a few types of people I avoid.
My workshops are intense and transformative and definitely not for time passers and I am clear on the quality of students I want. When old acquaintances request to join the workshop, even though I find it awkward to charge friends for money, I tell them the price. Do I value money over friendship? I value the quality of workshops over friendship.
If they are serious, they will pay for it because they plan on working on the concepts discussed in the workshops.
2.Attitude towards learning
The next set of people I avoid is based on what they fill in the enquiry form. In all the registration forms, I have a section where I request the participants to fill about what they expect out of the workshop or one on one session. Sometimes, the attitude clearly shows up over there. I will nevertheless send mail for the sake of courtesy and never follow up with them and they don’t reply either after I clearly explain the process.
I clearly call out what is that I am offering vs what is that they expect out of the session. Other times, I give out an assignment and make it clear that the workshop is beneficial only after you do the assignment. I am preparing my students to make it easy for them to receive information. I have rejected students who have not completed the assignment even though it is a revenue loss for me. On any day, the impact I can create in another person’s life is more important than the revenue I generate.
Despite all of this, sometimes I don’t get a good match. The person out there is not ready to grasp and apply everything I discuss. But I am sure, when the student revisits those concepts when he is ready, he will grasp it for sure.
4.Price expectations mismatch
Once when I did a meditation class, I had ISB alumni register for the same. The people who attended were at C-suite level, yet they were defaulters. It is such a shame that people who can afford to pay think that they can get away without paying. Since then, whenever I have some new folks joining, I have to make payment mandatory so that I don’t share my energy with people who don’t understand the value of it.
Then there is this category of people who say, “This is so expensive.” Please go out there and search for people who have worked on themselves and yet offer things at the rate I do. If you find someone like that, I will match the price.
Guided meditation costs Rs 3000 per hour out there. Transforming beliefs costs at least 5k per session in the market. I charge around 1/5th of the market price. On top of this, I offer scholarships. Yet, people think this is expensive. But they don’t think twice to get sloshed or splurge on Netflix subscription.
If they can’t get their priorities right, I have no interest in working with them either.
If you are only looking for free content, I have written more than 300 articles on my website and more than 1100 answers on Quora. You can refer to them for learning.
My favorite students
As a mentor, I am unbiased on giving my best. Irrespective of how difficult the student is, I persist and make sure that they have some take away from each session.
But I do have favorite students who make life easy, rewarding and help me grow too.
Sometimes there is such a perfect fit between me and the student that the student brings in a problem where I discover my own strengths and at the same time, the student has an aha moment with my explanation. There are such win-win situations.
There’s this one student who always asks me to conduct a workshop which I think I am not yet ready for. But every time I give in to his request, I just discover the next level of my skills.
For 2021, I will definitely give the best student award to one of the students who attended almost every workshop of mine, completed all the assignments and provided feedback. I am definitely proud of the progress he made.
The best part of doing this as a side hustle is to have students who show the progress and make you feel that it was all worth the effort.
Some general tips and ethics for teachers
1.Matching the skill set
It is important to select your students after evaluation of their needs and your skill set. I once rejected a therapy session to a person who lost 5 family members in covid as that is not my area of expertise. Similarly I rejected a collaboration for counselling sessions for people struggling with life threatening diseases. As a mentor, you need to always have that clarity in what you are good at, what you want to offer, what you can’t do.
2.When to follow up?
Don’t follow up with clients who are not ready for transformation. Even if they join, they are not ready yet. It is frustrating for both of you.
3.How to reach out?
Separate out your personal life from professional life. When I didn’t have a separate phone number for my side hustle, I gave out my personal number for a couple of clients. Then they started acting like teenagers who need constant attention despite informing them multiple times to avoid such behavior. I had to eventually block them to prevent them from intervening in my personal space.
4.I only want to help. Should I do free sessions?
Don’t do free sessions unless you have a huge audience. Less than 50% of registered folks attend free sessions. Based on my experience, people don’t implement whatever you teach when you do it for free. If money doesn’t matter for you, charge the student a minimal amount and donate it for a good cause.
Finding a good mentor
I am always exploring something or the other in my life and I would definitely be grateful to find a mentor who can take me to the next level.
Challenges I face
1.Style of teaching
My major style of learning is to discover things myself. This is exactly what I do with my students too. I don’t give out answers in my one on one sessions or workshops. I design questions which will help my students find their own answers. That’s exactly what I want from my teacher too. But the hunt for it seems to be very tiring.
2.Finding that knowledgeable teacher
I read a lot on a wide range of diverse topics on self improvement. Most of the time I end up meeting people who are not as well read as me and end up defending their narrow thoughts. I just run away from such mentors. One of them was selling me hypnosis as the only way to change your subconscious mind. While I have already made changes in multiple ways, you have practiced only one and call it the truth. At another time, a particular line of meditation is the only way to change the subconscious mind and it can’t be done in any other way. You should try other ways before you make such drastic statements.
3.Teachers who don’t assess you before they sell their service
One Progressive astrologer on quora was pestering me to join as his student just because I upvoted his answers. He would just not take no as an answer. He wasn’t even willing to listen to what I want vs what he has got to offer. I realized how unprogressive he was in real life vs the way he portrayed in his answer.
I am not saying it is easy. A friend commented on me 6 years ago saying that my Quora answers and real life don’t match. Now, people compliment that what I write and who I am are the same. It is a journey you have to constantly work towards. If you were not able to achieve it in 15 years then of what use is to call yourself progressive.
Select a mentor based on where you stand in your learning path. If you are at the slow beginning phase, a mentor who has the patience to come down to your level and explain things in a way you understand is what you need. Back when I taught in classrooms, I always knew the students who were just wasting their money by paying for an expensive course while they needed a personal coach to go down to their level.
During the steep acceleration phase, you can attend some group classes because you are already making progress. You don’t need any special attention. But once you learn all that a mentor can offer, your growth gets stagnant if you depend on the same guru.
In the plateau stage, you need a Master. Someone who has perfected themselves in the field. All other mentors in that stage are a waste of time and money. I know the students who are above average and I used to bring some tough problems for them to solve.
There’s no point in complaining that a teacher is bad. You have to find a match.
Don’t choose dictators who don’t listen to your point of view. You have a right to think and speak. Once, one of the participants asked me, “What if I don’t believe in alternative healing?” It was a genuine question. I never believed in it either. There is a good chance that you will be cheated if you can’t experience energy. So go for something only which you can see and feel and not because your mentor told you so.
I got lucky
Well, after a long trial, I found a therapist who is not an expert but listens to me when I talk. I realized that all I needed was a safe space to explore my subconscious thoughts.
Similarly, I was lucky at work. The first time I found a mentor, he guided me in every possible area of life and helped me explore my potential. I can’t thank him enough for giving me the confidence to explore life to the fullest. You sometimes end up meeting people who are definitely life changing. Sadly, I can’t relate to him anymore. For the better or worse, I have grown at a faster pace than him and I find his instructions suffocating in the areas where he is still stuck with old mentality.
I currently have a mentor again who pushes my thinking to the next level. It is always fun to be around such people who bring out the best in you.
What are your experiences as a teacher? How do you choose a mentor? Let us know in the comments section.
Happy finding the perfect fit!