When it comes to succeeding in life and in business, you should never be afraid to ask questions. One thing that all successful people have in common is that they’re always seeking to learn more and to better themselves.
So many success stories focus heavily on the mistakes people or businesses made and the lessons learned from these failures that enabled them to realize their goals. But, what if you were able to cut through the failure and simply learn the lessons?
That’s why seeking a mentor to help guide you through your professional obstacles is such an essential part to success. Hardships will still come and some failure may still be inevitable, but it will always be easier to weather if you have someone who’s done and seen it all before.
However, simply having a mentor isn’t enough—you have to make sure you’re picking his or her brain properly and getting the right guidance. That’s why I’ve assembled this list of 10 essential questions to ask your mentor:
1) How do you spend your time on a daily basis?
Unfortunately, one of the most common reasons business owners or digital marketing agencies fail is because of either a lack of discipline, or the inability to manage time effectively. Learn how your mentor prioritizes their time, and ask about any tips or tricks they may have to help stay focused and productive. Money is time and time is money, so figuring out how to spend your day will have a huge impact on your success.
2) What used to be your biggest weakness?
Self-awareness is a great weapon against failure. Unfortunately, sometimes hindsight is the only way to learn the things about yourself that may have dragged you down in the past. Discussing past weaknesses with your mentor will help you avoid the same pitfalls that they experienced, and may even help you realize some of your own weaknesses.
3) What would you do in this situation if you were me?
One of the best things about building a relationship with your mentor is that you can get specific one-on-one advice. There are many things you can learn from books or courses, but having a resource that can offer you real-time advice on situations you are struggling with is invaluable. Take advantage of this opportunity to see where your approach to your business can be improved as it is happening.
4) How do you set/plan your goals?
The path to success is different for everyone, but learning a new approach to setting and accomplishing goals will never be a waste of time. Learning tried and true techniques from someone you look up to will just give you one more tool in your arsenal on your path toward success.
5) What set you apart from competitors in your industry?
Figuring out how to set yourself apart from your competition is one of the keys to finding success in your industry. It is also something you’ll most likely always have to work at, constantly adapting to what is happening in your niche. Learning how your mentor was able to set themselves apart can help you develop your own strategies.
6) What do you think my strengths and weaknesses are?
Doing your own self-assessment of your strengths and weaknesses is great, but sometimes that can only take you so far. Getting an honest second opinion from someone who has your interests at heart can help you immeasurably. More than receiving this feedback, the way that you respond to it is incredibly important. Listen with an open mind and be willing to make changes.
7) Can I reach out to you with questions I may have?
Every mentoring relationship will be different, so it’s important to set and learn the boundaries of each relationship, especially if it’s new. Having this kind of personalized one-on-one support can be incredibly helpful, but it’s important that you are never taking advantage of your mentor or approaching them with questions they do not feel comfortable with. You never want to become a burden to anyone you form a professional relationship with, but most especially a mentor.
8) How did you learn to deal with failure?
Learning how to deal with failure is unfortunately an inevitable part of life and business, and it can oftentimes be incredibly difficult. Getting any kind of feedback and encouragement in this area will not only do a lot for your business goals, but likely your mental health as well. It’s important there to listen to the advice you’re given and to apply it when the time comes.
9) What programs or organizations are you involved with? How might they help me?
Your mentor will have likely been involved with many different organizations and been presented with many opportunities that you would find worth pursuing. In this, it is important for you to evaluate what you would like to get out of these organizations yourself in order to find the ones that will be most helpful to you.
10) How could I communicate more effectively?
One of the keys to running a successful business, particularly in a field like digital marketing where you are providing clients with a service, is being able to communicate more effectively—both with your client and your target audience. Your mentor should be able to offer both general advice on this topic, and advice that is specific to you and your strengths and weaknesses.
In a world full of competition, finding a way to have an edge over others in your industry is key—and enlisting the help of a mentor is a great way to elevate both yourself and your business. Remember that your mentor has walked your path before you, and they are a fount of information.