Rather than finding one mentor to aid in the journey of personal and professional growth, Atomic Habits author James Clear suggests finding dozens of mentors and role models.
- Rather than finding one successful person and emulating his life, Clear suggests that multiple role models provide a wealth of knowledge.
- During an interview with Adam Grant’s ReThinking podcast, Clear suggested that listeners find the common denominator among many role models.
- “What I have gradually learned to do after making many mistakes, is you want to look at 100 people who are doing the thing that you want to do and then you try to find the commonalities or the patterns between them,” he says.
Why it’s news
Often, leaders or entrepreneurs see one successful person and decide to try to follow that person’s path to success. While individuals can provide good advice, Clear warns that it may not always be possible for the mentee to follow another person’s steps exactly.
“There’s a very common pitfall that I have certainly fallen into many times, which is, you see someone who is successful, who is doing the thing you hope to do or that you aspire to do, and then you think, ‘You know what, I’ll imitate what they’re doing,’” Clear says.
It may not be possible to follow a role model’s path precisely. Undoubtedly, somewhere along their journey, they were helped by a chance meeting or perfect market conditions. These are things that cannot consistently be replicated.
Because a person cannot exclusively emulate an individual path to success, Clear suggests to listeners that they ought to find a multitude of role models and look for the common factors that led to their success, CNBC reports.
Other experts have echoed Clear’s advice. Babson College Associate Dean Wendy Murphy wrote in a Harvard Business Review article that the reader should “become an organizational anthologist.”
When reviewing whether or not a person is a worthy role model, Murphy suggests readers ask questions such as:
- How do they behave?
- What skills do they have that the reader needs to refine?
- What makes them an effective leader in their field?
CEO of career coaching company Landit Lisa Skeete Tatum had similar advice for readers during an interview with CNBC Make It. Tatum recommends assembling a “personal board of directors.”
In her own life, Tatum chooses the following people for her own “board of directors”:
- A mentor
- A friend
- A “sponsor” or person who can vouch for her skills
- A “connector”—someone with excellent networking abilities and connections
- A “point expert”—a person who has the knowledge Tatum needs