Remember the popular childhood board game Chutes and Ladders? The objective of the game is to get from square 1 to square 100 by spinning the wheel and advancing the specified number of squares. The first one to reach square 100 wins. One way to accelerate your climb to the top is to land on a square with a ladder which you climb and bypass a number of squares – a shortcut to the top, if you will. But beware! Land on a chute and slide downwards closer to where you started…all that hard work spinning and moving forward gone in a blink of an eye – your hopes of winning wiped clean for the moment…time to pick yourself up again and strive for the top hoping to land on more ladders than chutes.
Chutes and Ladders reminds me of the game we call life. There are times you catch a lucky break, like a ladder, and propel towards success and times when you encounter roadblocks or situations that repel you back a few squares just like a chute. I don’t know about you, but as much as I can, I look for the ladders in life. To me, mentors are like ladders. Mentors typically have more experience than you and are trusted confidants who share their wisdom and life experiences with the hope that you learn through their mistakes and successes. By listening and learning you can potentially use their life experiences as ladders to bypass potential roadblocks or to accelerate your climb to the top. Because “they’ve been there and done that” they can offer an additional perspective to help avoid potential pitfalls and, instead, take proven paths.
Mentors can be especially helpful to entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are pioneers, testing the waters of business on their own. At some point along the way it is typical for an entrepreneur to realize that he can’t do everything on his own…This is where a mentor is invaluable. A mentor can serve as an outside set of eyes pointing out what you might not be seeing, providing clarity where clarity is needed, giving rational feedback in the midst of your emotional circumstance and offering connections and resources where needed.
So, if you find yourself closer to square 1 than square 100 consider finding a mentor who can offer you a few ladders and be a major contributor to your winning strategy in the ups and downs of life success.