Mentors have insight capable of shaving years off your learning curve and they can help avoid painful mistakes along the way. Mentors have the power to truly transform our lives in helping us achieve our highest human excellence—the good life.
The good life—everybody wants it but not everybody gets it. Since the beginning of time humans have obsessed over the "good life", wondering what it is and if we can ever truly get it. Aristotle called it Eudaimonia and taught that our highest human excellence consists of health, wealth, happiness, and love. The Buddha called it Nirvana and taught that bliss and tranquility come from detachment. Doctors today have found data consistency, concluding that the good life is experienced when we’re focused only on present moments, not worried or preoccupied with other thoughts.
Whatever you call it or however you define it, the real question is how do you get it?
I recently watched a TED talk by investor and entrepreneur, Tai Lopez where he proposed an answer to this age-old question. Based on experience and research, he concluded that one way to the good life is "through copying those who have succeeded before you", otherwise known as mentorship.
Career mentors have insight capable of shaving years off your learning curve and they can help avoid painful mistakes along the way. Mentors have the power to truly transform our lives in helping us achieve our highest human excellence—the good life.
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Jay-Z, Ghandi, Oprah
Did you know that Albert Einstein had a mentor he ate lunch with every Thursday? Or that Jay-Z, Gandhi, and Oprah all had mentors? Actually, Oprah had two mentors. Warren Buffet had Benjamin Graham; Bill Gates had Paul Allen; and Alexander the Great had Aristotle. Many believe the ability to copy is the greatest predictor of your success...and looking at these examples, there’s a pattern of good mentorship that leads to success.
So why don’t we all have mentors?
Are we unsure about what the good life means to us? Are we too afraid to say, for fear of failure? Leaders say visualization is the first step in achieving any goal because visualization takes you to where you are going. Consequently, the first step in achieving the good life is determining your version of the good life and visualizing it, so you know where to start and what to prioritize along the way.
I’ve done this myself and visualized my version of the good life, which is being able to travel and experience awe in every corner the world with the one I love. I envision myself in the Swiss Alps, the outback of Australia, the beaches of Greece, the fjords of Norway and of course, ending every day with a glass of spectacular wine. My good life requires me to have the health, wealth, happiness and love to truly experience wonder and awe in its most pure form. So, who has the answers to help me do that?
Laws of Mentors
According to Tai, “You will never find the answers from just one person. If you’re lucky you will have a handful of people along the way who have gone and succeeded before you.”
I feel incredibly lucky to have three mentors greatly impact my life and career thus far. They’ve given me motivation and determination to persevere, they’ve provided perspective in times I was wrong, they’ve taught me the value of mindfulness and diligence in decision making, and taught me that resilience is the only way to the good life.
In his TED talk, Tai shares the things his mentors taught him in what he calls, Laws of Mentors. According to the Laws of Mentors the good life is a result of humility, perseverance, books, and toughness.
There is a great story about Samuel Walton, founder of Walmart, who was arrested in Brazil for crawling around on the floors of supermarkets. Walton was measuring the width of the aisles because he wanted to know if there was something different about the stores in Brazil, something he didn’t know about, that could potentially better his Walmart stores. At that point, Walton was already a billionaire, yet his humility led him to become even more successful. He knew he didn’t have the all answers and he was eager to keep learning, even if learning meant being on his hands and knees on the floor of a supermarket. It takes humility to be successful and Samuel Walton had the humility to become one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time.
Bill Gates’ story is an excellent example of the perseverance it takes to be successful. Gates was 17 years old when he started working on his projects, and between the age of 20 and 30 he didn’t take a single day off. He persevered until he had finished what he started. Unfortunately, we don’t often hear this side of the story; social media and advertising perpetuate a false narrative about the good life by only showing us what success looks and hiding any indication of the struggle required to get there. Don’t be the fool who falls into this trap. The Laws of Mentors says, everyone wants the good life but not everyone has the perseverance it takes to get the good life. Success doesn’t just happen; perseverance makes success happen.
Books contain some of the most riveting advice from some of the world’s greatest mentors, both living and dead. What if Darwin, Aristotle, or Samuel Walton showed up at your house every day for an hour to help shortcut your way to the good life? Reading books makes that possible. Tai gives two quick tricks for reading more books; his first trick is to stop seeing books like a one-time event. Like mentors and friends, find the best books and keep them close and revisit them over and over again. The second trick is to read like a goldminer and dig for a book’s golden nugget. Some books have more golden nuggets than others, most only have one but that’s up to you to decide. As the Laws of Mentors indicates, everyone wants the good life but not everyone is willing to read to get it. You must read more if you want to succeed.
Toughness, as it relates to the Laws of Mentors, is best explained in comparing stoics and epicureans. Stoics are like investors, they are willing to sacrifice present pleasure for something better later on. Epicureans are constant consumers, they live for now and have the mindset that you only live once. The Laws of Mentors claim, “Luxury comes at the cost of killing your hopes, your dreams, your ambitions. Toughen up a little bit, be a stoic.” Whether it’s getting up an hour earlier, running that extra sprint, working on Saturday, or not eating sweets, we toughen up by doing the things that are hard. It will pay off in the form of success.
No matter if you’re just starting out or well on your way to achieving health, wealth, happiness, and love, there’s always someone to learn from. Mentors are your shortcut to the good life. They’ve made it through the struggle and they know what it takes, they show you the possibilities and bring the answers right to you. By following the rules set by mentors, you can be one of the few to succeed. It’s going to be hard but it’s supposed to be hard, that’s what makes it great.
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