“I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging the future but by the past.” – Patrick Henry

In the early years of my business career, I searched for the perfect mentor to guide and direct me. I figured that life exposes us to constant experiences that we can learn from — including our own successes and mistakes as well as those of other people. And it seemed obvious to me that learning from the experiences of someone who had already made all the mistakes and triumphed over them would be the fastest and easiest way for me to succeed.

I really had no idea of the enormity of my endeavor until I got deeply into it.

I was looking for someone who:

  • expressed a genuine interest in making a positive and beneficial impact on my life
  • had the wisdom, knowledge, and experience to motivate me to aim high — not only in my career but also in my personal life
  • was able to effectively share his wisdom, knowledge, and experiences in a way that would provide me with clear and understandable direction
  • had the ability to guide me to fulfill my responsibilities, while staying true to myself

In other words, I was looking for one perfect individual to become my role model.

Does that sound a bit like a pie-in-the-sky to you? Well, you’re right. The end result was quite different from what I expected. After a significant investment of time and money, one thing became clear to me: There was no such thing as one single person with the ability to help me achieve and enjoy every aspect of an ideal life — great friends, a successful career, optimum health, a fulfilling family life, financial security, a thriving social life, exciting leisure activities, a blissful spiritual life, and strong community involvement.

I discovered that I could learn more not by following the advice of one individual (who existed only as a fantasy in my mind) but by learning from a number of mentors with specialized knowledge in their fields. It was at that point that the real research began.

During my quest for qualified mentors, I categorized, clarified, distinguished, and assimilated the value that each one could bring to my life. By the time I was finished, I had chosen no less than 101 outstanding people who “walked the walk and talked the talk” — people in whose footsteps I am now proud to follow. People such as:

  • business expert and author Brian Tracy
  • motivational guru Tony Robbins
  • “Chicken Soup for the Soul” author Jack Canfield.
  • and 98 more

Interestingly enough, I haven’t met most of my chosen mentors — nor will I meet them in this lifetime.

Nonetheless, by reading their books, attending their seminars, and visiting their websites, I found that they made a significant and positive difference in my life — and continue to do so to this day.

(Ed. Note: David Riklan is the author of “Self Improvement — the Top 101 Experts” and is the founder and president of SelfGrowth.com.)