The other day I was working out at the gym and started my second set of flat dumbbell presses. The workout was going really well; I felt strong and wanted to increase the weight for my next set but I knew I couldn’t attempt to do it by myself.

I needed a spotter.

I asked my workout partner for a spot. He skillfully helped me lift the 50-pound dumbbells and I was able to complete the set for six reps. As I went to replace the dumbbells, a woman came up to me and said,

“We all need a spotter at the gym and in life, don’t we? It makes life much easier.”

This woman spoke more truth than what most of us realize.

Who is your spotter? For our purposes today, let’s identify spotters as life mentors.

What is a Life Mentor?

A mentor is someone who has experienced what you are trying to learn and can guide and lift you by his or her experiences and insights. Mentors are role models that support and believe in you.

A great mentor gives you direction and helps you dispel fears that arise as you are pushed from or willfully jump out of your comfort zone.

Mentorship relationships can be life-changing.

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Research on Mentors

A survey of over 200 small businesses conducted by Kabbage Inc., showed the importance of mentorship among entrepreneurs. Kabbage is a global financial services, technology, and data platform that serves small businesses.

The results of their study showed that 92% of small businesses agree that mentors have a direct impact on growth and the survival of their business.

Unfortunately, most of us whether we are entrepreneurs or not, go through life without a mentor. In the same Kabbage study, a resounding 89% of the small business respondents who did not have a mentor wish they had.

Examples of Mentor Relationships

According to a blog post by Jean Rhodes, Editor In Chief of The Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring, some of the most influential people in history were encouraged to succeed by some of the most well-known people of our time. Here is a list of a few of them.

Oprah Winfrey/Maya Angelou

Oprah Winfrey was mentored by the late author and poet Maya Angelou. Oprah says of Angelou,

“She was there for me always, guiding me through some of the most important years of my life.”

Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg

Steve Jobs was a mentor to Mark Zuckerberg. Mark’s post on his Facebook page after Steve passed away,

“Steve, thank you for being a mentor and friend. Thanks for showing that what you build can change the world. I will miss you.”

Bill Russell/His Mother

Retired Boston Celtics basketball player Bill Russell considers his Mother, Katie Russell, his greatest mentor.

“My mother taught me to stand up for myself, to use my brainpower on my behalf.”

Russell’s mother died when he was twelve years old, but he continued to live through her guidance.

“More strongly than ever, she stayed with me- in my thoughts, my goals, my aspirations…her presence, her teachings, remained with me when she was not around.”

Clint Eastwood/His Grandmother

Clint Eastwood believes that his Grandmother was his greatest mentor. His grandmother encouraged him to work hard and pursue his dreams.

“I’ve had many mentors in my life…my grandmother…was always encouraging. She always thought I was going to be something, when nobody else, including myself, thought I was going to amount to anything.”

Rhodes’s complete list can be found at

Mentors can help you…

1. Skip a Learning Curve

Entrepreneurs more often than not will find themselves in uncharted territory. Being able to gain from the experience of others allows you to not only save time and energy it may be the difference between succeeding and failing.

“Most people learn from their mistakes; high performers learn from the mistakes of others.” – Rita Hudgens

2. Expand your Viewpoint

Having a strong mentor will allow you to see multiple perspectives and broaden your horizons. Hindsight is 20/20; mentors give you that 20/20 hindsight ability from their own experiences.

“Spend time with those who expand your thinking.” – Vybe Source

3. Increase Your Confidence

Mentorship is helping people and may possibly be the key to achieving more in life than what one imagined. The encouragement and inspiration you get from someone who has mastered what you are attempting to do can be a significant boost to your confidence.

“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” – Oprah Winfrey

Finding a Mentor

A mentor is a genuinely authentic person who has the experience and the heart to help others. The remarkable thing about true mentors is that they do what they do effortlessly; they don’t strive or try to be mentors – that’s just who they are.

When seeking to find a mentor, look for someone who is a few steps ahead of you; a person you have shared values with and personality traits that you aspire to have.

The following questions may help you:

  • What skills and life lessons do I need to learn?
  • Who do I admire?
  • What has that person attained that I want to achieve?

Paying for a Mentor

Don’t shy away from hiring a mentor or a coach. You are worth the investment. Mentors will help you become the person you need to be to build the life and career you envision.

Besides increasing your confidence and expanding your viewpoint, a mentor will help you stop making self-destructive decisions and open up possibility thinking.

“I have a brilliant mentor that I’ve met with once a week for around 7 years and I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be the developer I am today without those meetings. He’s taught me how to think as a developer, showed me how to build advanced features, and helped me work through bugs that I felt lost on.” –  Jordan Hudgens CTO Bottega Code School


Role Models as Mentors

As entrepreneurs we all need life mentors, but we also can learn from role models. Take note of these two facts:

  • You may never actually meet your role model
  • Your role model may be a fictitious character

Corrie Ten Boom

From a spiritual/emotional vantage point, one of my role models is Holocaust Survivor Corrie Ten Boom.

Corrie was a Dutch prisoner held at the dreaded Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. Corrie saw her father and her sister die at the hands of the Nazi regime yet never lost her steadfast faith and resilient mindset.

When I look to a role model, a mentor to guide me in life, I first look to Corrie’s life.


From an inspiration/wisdom vantage point, one of my favorite role models is Rafiki in The Lion King. The wise mandrill Rafiki was Simba’s mentor. He encouraged Simba to believe in himself and gave him the strength he needed to return to Pride Rock and fight for his rightful place as King of the Jungle.

“Oh yes, the past can hurt but you can either run from it or learn from it.” – Rafiki

You the Mentor

Once you’ve experienced growth and have learned how to be a coachable, successful mentee, don’t forget to give back.

Think about it.

How have you been profoundly impacted by someone else?

Who do you need to become to make a difference in someone else’s life?

You becoming the mentor allows the giving cycle of mentorship to continue.


“Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living – if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way; a mentor.” – Denzel Washington



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Rita Hudgens
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