Steve Jobs had very limited furniture in his first home. Yet he hung a portrait of the great scientist. Albert Einstein.
He studied Albert through and through.
Steve later mentored Marc Benioff (Salesforce.com founder).
Tony Robbins (a success coach) has worked with Hugh Jackman, Mother Teresa, Serena Williams and former President Bill Clinton.
Bill Clinton called Tony one day.
"Tony I need your help. They're about to impeach me. What should I do?" He said.
"Well, you should've called me earlier." Tony said.
Tony's mentor was Jim Rohn. Named one of the most successful motivational speakers to ever live.
Socrates mentored Plato.
Plato mentored Aristotle.
Larry Page mentored Marissa Mayer (CEO of Yahoo!).
George Mason mentored Thomas Jefferson.
My short answer: Choose a path and learn from the best who had a similar path. Whether that be the best dad you know down the street (or from home). or whether that be the head of a billion dollar corporation.
There are different types of mentors.
There are three main resources we all have: TIME, RELATIONSHIPS and MONEY. (In that order).
The higher up the success ladder. The less time you have. The more relationships you gain. The more money you accumulate.
Therefore successful individuals don't have ANY time to mentor others. They have to make this time.
A direct mentor spends intimate time with you. He knows you on a first name basis. He's exchanging his most precious resource for YOUR benefit. Cherish this relationship.
This is like Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein. The two never met. However, Steve knew Albert inside and out. The way he talked to others. The way he problem solved (and thought). The way he questioned. Steve KNEW Albert.
Half of the individuals I listed above are alive. They all receive an upwards of 1,000 messages a day from 20 year-olds banging at their door to be mentored. They must say "No" 99.99% of the time.
Therefore, it's your duty to find a mentor(s) you may not ever meet. Study these individuals inside and out. Know the way she talks with others. Know the way she problem solves. Know the way she questions assumptions. Know HER.
If you can learn in 20 years what it took greats to learn in 40 years. You'll be on the fast track to success.
Remember: TIME, RELATIONSHIPS and MONEY.
Jobs was dying. Nobody knew this. He cold-called Walter Isaacson.
"I would like you to write my biography, Walter" Jobs said.
"Hmm. Why me? Why now?" Walter said.
"I've read ALL of your work. You're the most suited. It's time for it." Jobs said.
"OK, let me think about it." Walter said. (More accurately, not yet.)
Jobs wife called Walter a few months later.
"Steve's dying. Nobody knows. If you don't write it now, you won't be the one writing his book." She said.
The biography Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson sold 380k copies in the first week.
Steve never read it. Walter and Steve both knew he wasn't going to. It wasn't for Steve.
Steve wanted the book written so that his kids knew who he was. He had run out of time.