Beethoven had Mozart.
Arturo Sandoval had Dizzy Gillespie.
Aretha Franklin had Mahalia Jackson.
If an artist has greatly impacted the world, there was likely another artist who took him or her under wing, gave them the right advice, and then let them soar into stardom. Shows like NBC’s “The Voice” have made this process a national phenomenon, but mentors aren’t just for those seeking guidance on the big stage. Every artist can benefit from trusted advisers as they navigate the maze of career decisions and life goals. The tricky part is finding and maintaining good relationships with mentors that can actually help your career. If you’re looking for a mentor to help guide your career, here are three characteristics they should have.
- Accessible – While great musicians and artists are understandably busy, they have to be able to make time for you if you want to form a mentoring relationship. How they provide access isn’t as important – whether face to face or through phone calls or email – as the time and intention they invest in you. The key is that your mentor should be able to make your questions and concerns a priority during the moments you are able to share. It’s up to you as the student to make sure those moments are spent wisely and effectively.
- Accomplished – In order for your mentor to effectively assist you, she should have reached a level of success that is evident and acknowledged in the industry. This doesn’t mean she has to be at the very top of the profession, but there should be no doubt that she has demonstrated the know-how and discipline to push farther than you have. The best mentors, according to John Maxwell’s book “The 15 Undeniable Laws of Growth”, are those that are at least two steps ahead of you in their career. They should be far enough ahead to challenge you, but close enough that you can keep up.
- Advancing – If the mentor you’re reaching out to has stopped growing, and is content to rest on his previous accomplishments, that’s a bad sign. Artists that are truly inspiring continue to develop and push themselves despite reaching high levels of success. They know that the moment that they stop growing, they cut off a portion of what brings them joy and fulfillment. When your mentor is unwilling to settle for yesterday’s accolades, he’ll motivate you to continue your evolution as an artist.
Count yourself blessed when you find a mentor that has these qualities and show your gratefulness by taking their advice to heart. Honor them and be a blessing to them as they are to you.
If you want to be great, connect with someone who understands what it takes to be great.