Why I am glad that I don’t have a mentor
There is an immense amount of value in having a mentor. Mentors are people that have had the same problems that you are currently struggling. Mentors can show you all the steps that you need to reach to goal.
There is an immense amount of value in being a mentor. Being a mentor allows you to apply concepts that you are studying, and reapply concepts in order to gain an even greater understanding of these concepts.
Is it possible to be a mentor without ever having a mentor? Definitely. It is just much harder. I currently act as some sort of advisor/mentor for startups from time to time. I have never had a mentor. So far this has worked out okay for me. I usually advise people with one or two tasks related to their startup. Tell them to re-examine their feature set, or offer feedback on a design.
Lately though, I am starting to take the role of a full-time advisor. Not full time as in 40 hours a week, but in the sense that a startup will ask me for advice across all aspects of their business. I am okay with doing this, I am somewhat experienced in some of the areas, other areas not so much. The reason that I feel comfortable giving advice on topics that I don’t have much experience in, is because with the power of the internet, I an apply what I do know to make sense of what I don’t know. I can also learn from other people’s mistakes.
Which is one of the biggest problems with having a mentor. It is much harder to make mistakes, and the mistake is the ultimate learning tool. The best learners are the ones that have already made the mistake a million times. I have never had a mentor, so I make mistakes frequently. I learn from the mistakes though, in a way that I never would with a mentor. Living day-to-day has provided me with more knowledge than any mentor or advisor ever could. Just because you have access to knowledge does not mean that you leverage it. I can tell someone how to build a business, but if they don’t understand why, they will not learn. They might do well, but if they try to build a startup without me, it will not work.
Moral of the story is, best way to learn is by doing it yourself. Mentors provide a valuable knowledge base, but if you don’t understand the reasoning behind their advice, it is completely worthless.