How To Find Mentors

Before there were books, universities, or classes, there were mentorships to pass on wisdom and knowledge. In the west, mentorships exist since the Ancient Greek times—it’s a tried method of learning.

Sometimes people mix up apprenticeships and mentorships. An apprenticeship is basically an internship, which is a system that was created in the Middle Ages.

If you wanted to become a tailor, baker, or merchant, you became an apprentice first and learned the craft on the job.

The main difference between the two is that mentorships are informal. And that’s exactly what makes it difficult to find a mentor.

Most people understand the value of mentors, but finding one is not easy. I also didn’t have mentors until I was out of college.

But in the past six years, I’ve been lucky to cross paths with three great people, who became mentors to me, and taught me invaluable lessons.

There are also several other people that I speak to every once in a while — we exchange ideas, and share knowledge—they are also like mentors. So mentors come in many types of relationships.

Here are seven things I learned about finding a mentor.

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What Idiots Can Teach You About Life

Have you ever met an idiot and thought “What an idiot?” Well, don’t be so quick to judge — idiots can teach you a lot about life.

A few years ago I went to Shangai. When I boarded the plane in Amsterdam, I met a first class idiot as soon as I stepped foot on the aircraft.

When I got to my seat, the overhead bin was already full, so I had to store my bag on the other side. But when I tried to do that, an idiot came from nowhere and started screaming at me. I didn’t understand him, but I got his message: “That’s my seat, and I want to store my bag there.”

I grabbed my bag, walked two rows down, asked the person who was sitting there if it was ok I placed my bag in his overhead bin; he said yes, I stored my bag, walked down to my seat, and sat down.

Was that difficult? No. Could the idiot have done that? Yes. He didn’t have to make a scene.

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25 Things About Life I Wish I Had Known 10 Years Ago

Socrates, considered as one of the founders of Western philosophy, was once named the wisest man on earth by the Oracle of Delphi. When Socrates heard that the oracle had made such a comment, he believed that the statement was wrong.

Socrates said: “ I know one thing: that I know nothing.”

How can the smartest man on earth know nothing? I heard this paradoxical wisdom for the first time from my school teacher when I was 14 or 15. It made such an impact on me that I used Socrates’s quote as my learning strategy.

“I know nothing” to me, means that you might be a wise person, but still, you know nothing. You can learn from everything and everyone.

One thing that I like better than learning from my mistakes is to learn from other people’s mistakes. Over the years, I’ve been blessed to have great mentors, teachers, family, friends, that taught me about life.

What you will find below is a list of the most important things I learned from other people and books. Some of the lessons took me a long time to learn—but if I had to learn these things all by myself, it would take me a lot longer.

We might learn things quickly, but we often forget things at the same rate—and sometimes we need to remind ourselves of the things we’ve learned.

Here are 25 of those reminders that others taught me.

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10 Habits Of Unsuccessful People You Don’t Want To Copy

Do you really think you’ll be successful if you simply copy other people’s habits? If that was the case, success was easy.

I never met a successful person until I was 24. I grew up in a working-class family—I was more around people who were the opposite.

The first successful person I met was an entrepreneur in his forties. When I started my first real business, he was one of my first clients. When I met him, he was slightly overweight, had more money than he could count, and was merry all the time.

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What To Do When You Screw Up Badly

I’ve screwed up so many times in my life that I lost count. One of my favorite mistakes is when I became homeless for 5 days in London.

That is a good story now, but believe me, I was scared out of my mind at the time. I’d recently moved to London, I had no friends, no family — and yet I managed to get kicked out of my apartment, without having a new place to live.

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This Accelerated Learning App Will Change Your Life

an app for accelerated learning that actually helps

I’ve been an avid reader since I was 16. One of the first novels I (voluntarily) read was Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. That’s a serious read at 450 pages, but I loved it. Around the same time, I also discovered non-fiction books. 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene was the first self-help book I read. I immediately got hooked to reading—fiction and non-fiction.

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5 speed reading strategies to instantly read faster

Speed reading helps you to develop your knowledge at a faster pace

Do you love reading and learning new things? Or do you have to read many documents for work? We live in a fast-paced world: information is the centerpiece of most of our lives. In our personal life, there are so many things we want to learn. And if you are a knowledge worker, chances are you have to read emails, rapports, and other documents on a daily basis. Multitasking hurts our productivity. And there is so much to read, but so little time, right? That isn’t necessarily true. Speed reading is something that has had a lot of attention in recent years. People are always looking for ways to get things done more efficiently. By learning to speed read you significantly process more information and get things done more quickly. However, with most speed reading techniques, you are required to adapt your natural reading style.

A Google search for ‘speed reading’ yields multiple methods. Most of them revolve eye coordination, reading between lines, skipping words, or visualizing while you are reading. In the past few years, I’ve tried different techniques. I found that it was useful and productive at first, but after 1 or 2 days, I would fall back in my old patterns. For example: moving my eyes super fast didn’t feel natural. Similar to the ‘visualizing technique’: this requires you to visualize every word you read. While I am not questioning the effectiveness of these (proven) methods, I do think that they are not for everybody. The problem is that we are creatures of habit—changing how we read is something extremely difficult because it is something we’ve learned as children. I’ve found five strategies that you can apply, without changing the way you read. These strategies are not focusing on the actual reading technique. But rather on strategies that will improve the time you can finish a book or document. It is not necessarily about words per minute. It is finishing something in less time than before—but still capturing all information.

5 ways to read faster

The biggest obstacle that stands in most of our’s way is the misconceptions we have about reading. We believe that we have to read every single word in a book, article, or document to understand it. We simply do not have the time to read every single word—it doesn’t matter how fast you read. We believe that we have to memorize everything because of pressure from school—we had to remember everything because we had exams. Trying to remember everything you read is a waste of time—we forget the material that our brain stores in it’s short-term memory after a couple of days. So it is time to get rid of a few misconceptions and hack your reading methods.

1. Learn the ‘art’ of skipping

Our brain can understand concepts without having to read a full book or article. By knowing ‘what’ to skip, you can read a book faster while obtaining the essential information. Once you’ve read a few non-fiction books, you know the structure. Understanding the outline will help you to skip non-essential parts. For example, start by preview the whole book (you can also do this for rapports, blogposts, et cetera). Read the first few introductory paragraphs to grasp the message of the book. Next, read the subheading, titles, and subtitles. Then, read the first and last sentence of each paragraph. This method will help you to comprehend the text faster. This strategy will give you 40 percent of the vital information.

2. Direct your thoughts

One bad habit is daydreaming—we think about the weirdest things when we are reading. Our mind wanders off on a tangent. Daydreaming is something that everybody does—there is no point in stopping it. Instead: turn it into something that helps you with comprehension. Next time you catch your mind wander, direct your thoughts towards the subject you are reading about. Connect the words you are reading with real life experiences. For instance, when you are reading about ways to deal with stress, think of a period when you had a lot of stress. In this way, you allow your brain to create connections, which will make it easier to remember.

3. Stop subvocalizing while you read

When we read, we mouth along to the words. At this rate, you read 150 words per minute, which is the same as your talking speed. Research shows that your brain can process up to 400 words per minute. By stopping the habit of mouthing the words, you can increase the number of words you process by 200%! One easy trick to stop subvocalizing is to focus on keywords and to skip the rest. Try to put this in practice and catch yourself when you are mouthing the words you are reading.

4. Set a goal

Set a goal for what kind of information you want to walk away with after reading something. Ask yourself: Why am I reading this? Why do I need this information? How can I use it? If you are in college and you have an exam on a subject: focus on the parts that the lectures covered. When you are reading a book on exercising, and you want to walk away with a fitness routine: read the parts that include the different fitness routines. You don’t have to discard the rest, but at least you can prioritize your reading. Also, if you do not know exactly why you are reading something, DON’T!

5. Capture the most important information

It is true that we don’t have to remember everything, but at the same time, we want to remember the important matters. That’s why we need a retrieval system that will help us to retrieve the information when we need it. See it as a backup of your brain. Setting up a retrieval system is very personal—some people prefer writing down knowledge in their notebook, others prefer taking pictures. Do whatever works best for you. For example, I prefer Evernote because it works similar to how our brain works. When I read a book or article, I highlight the most important things. When I finish a book, I go back to my highlights and take pictures with Evernote. When I need to retrieve the information I can use Evernote’s search function, which also recognizes text from images. Having a retrieval system also takes away the pressure of memorizing information.

Conclusion

Most people don’t think of reading as fun. However, gaining knowledge is essential for your growth. It is true that you can learn in different ways, and you should focus on ‘how’ you learn best (video, audio, text). But the truth is that we cannot completely avoid reading. So make it easier for yourself to learn things faster. Finally, take a break every 30 minutes. Research shows that the human brain can only focus on one task for a short amount of time. Give yourself a break from reading and try to read every day. If you keep it up, you’ll be substantially smarter within no time.

 

 

Thanks For Reading!

 

I’m Darius Foroux—an entrepreneur, author, and podcaster.

I publish weekly articles on overcoming procrastination, improving productivity, and achieving more. Never want to miss an article?

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