David Neagle was a high school dropout. His first job was as a forklift operator for a shipping company, spending long, terrible hours on a cold loading dock and cursing his existence. Now, he makes millions every year by showing others how to take the same steps he took to become a mega-success.

Here’s how it happened…

On one particularly cold evening around 2:00 a.m., David had an epiphany. A little voice inside his head said, “Change your attitude.”

David set out that very instant to do just that.

He thought about his boss – the owner of the company and the most successful person he knew. And he decided he would do what his boss did.

He noticed that his boss was always kind and courteous, treating everyone with the utmost respect. So David started following his example. He also started caring more about his work. Before, David was all about doing as little as he could get away with, not caring if the boxes he was loading fell over and got crushed. Now, he took extra care to make sure they were loaded properly, even if he had to do it over.

David’s new attitude paid off. Within a few months, he received the kind of promotion usually reserved for the owner’s relatives. (It was a small, family-owned company.)

David’s coworkers joked that he must be the boss’s illegitimate nephew, but he didn’t care. He just kept right on doing what he was doing. And today, like I said, he’s making millions. All because of a little epiphany he had years ago on a cold loading dock in the dead of night.

You can learn a thing or three from his example:

  1. Identify someone successful in your company or industry and think about what got them to the top.
  2. Examine their work habits. Do they consistently come in early and stay late? Do they constantly improve their skills? Do they interact with supervisors and coworkers in a friendly way?
  3. Write down what they do… and start doing it.

But you don’t have to play copycat with someone from afar. You can get personal, one-on-one advice from someone who has been where you are and achieved great success.

I’m talking about getting a mentor.

Mentors are more than role models. They can significantly cut your learning curve. Based on their own experience, they can help you avoid costly, time-wasting mistakes and get up the ladder much faster than you could on your own.

So, how do you find a mentor?

Well, it helps if you know what you’re looking for. For openers, a good mentor should be able to:

  • teach you new skills
  • provide you with constructive criticism
  • hook you up with the people you need to know to get ahead
  • give you the lowdown on the politics and power in your organization or industry

So start by asking yourself, “What do I need? What skills do I want to learn or improve upon?”

Once you know that, you can seek out the appropriate person to help you. But first, you have to consider a few more things:

  • Do you want to learn from someone similar to, or different from, yourself?
  • Do you want someone from a similar background who came up the same way you did, or does it matter if they came by a different road?
  • Do you want to be mentored by someone you know, or do you want to find someone you’ve never met before?

Finally, you need to be honest with yourself about how much time you are willing to spend on being mentored. Remember, time is a commodity that once spent you will never get back! So choose wisely, young Skywalker!

[Ed. Note: The above article was adapted from Peter “The Reinvention Guy” Fogel’s new book, Reboot Your Career: 27 Ways to Reinvent Yourself in the Workplace (If You Still Have a Job!).

Before Peter reinvented himself from a successful stand-up comic into an in-demand speaker, freelance advertising copywriter/problem solver, he worked on many TV shows, including Married With Children, Hope and Faith, and Whoopi w/Whoopi Goldberg. He also is the author of the critically acclaimed book If Not Now… Then When?, Stories and Strategies of People Over 40 Who Have Successfully Reinvented Themselves.

Sign up for his FREE Reinvent This e-zine and get his 4-in-1 Total Success Reinvention Package (a $75 value).

And if you’re interested in public speaking, sign up for Peter’s FREE 7 Days to MORE Effective Public Speaking e-ecourse (a $125 value) and get FREE Mp3 downloads at www.publicspeaklikeapro.com.]