Iron sharpens iron.
This timeless principle is one the best analogies on how to grow. Surround yourself with people who will sharpen, challenge and inspire you. Of course, this isn't as easy as it sounds. "Where do you find the iron, the sharpeners, the mentors?" It's a question I hear a lot. In fact, it's one of the reasons we've started Launch Youniveristy and The Launch Youniversity Podcast. We want to create a tribe of sharpeners who sharpen one another.
One of the ways to do this is to understand how to find a mentor. Here are three ways to approach the process of sharpening yourself through mentoring.
1. Distance Mentoring.
Some of the best mentors in my life are people who have never met me. Mentoring in real-time and in-person is great but it doesn't have to be limited to that. For example, Bill Hybels, the senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, has mentored me for years through his books and messages, but I've never met him. Don't be limited by real-time and your network of contacts—instead, clearly define the kind of person you want to be. This is important because of this principle about mentoring: The more you define who you want to be the more you define who you want your mentor to be.
2. Real-time Mentoring.
One of the best ways to determine who should be a sharpener in your life is to look around and ask, "Who can I learn from and is further along than me in life?" This doesn't have to be limited to business. For example, when my wife, Wendy, and I were expecting our first child, I made a list of men who had teenaged children or older. They had children who I respected and admired. I asked if I could take them to breakfast and learn from them as Dads. They sharpened me as a father and I still implement the advice I learned from them. In fact, now that my kids are teenagers, I am sharing the advice I learned and implemented with younger Dads.
3. Develop a Mentoring System.
This kind of mentoring is, as Stephen Covey says, one of those "important but not urgent" parts of life. This is why you must systematize the important. You need a system that ensures the sharpening process happens, even in the midst of busyness. A very practical way to do this is to become a student of The Launch Youniversity Podcast.
Finally, let's take action today. What question do you have that we can try to help you with today? It could be about business, relationships, family or life? We aren't claiming to be the experts but we do want to help you. We have had people sharpen us, and we want to return the favor. Ask away. We're here to help.