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While personal responsibility is key to success, a mentor can help us reach our destination much faster than we could on our own. According to John C. Crosby, “Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.”
How do you find your mentor?
For one, you must keep an open mind. You’ll almost always find the most valuable mentors when you’re least expecting it.
First, a bit of background
I grew in a small town in Texas where my high-school consisted of two groups of people: athletic and not athletic. Our school was so small that we didn’t even have the typical cliques you associate with high-school.
To be fair, I could have sought out other shy bookworms like myself, and we could have banded together.
But I wanted desperately to be a jock
The jocks were the most popular, the best looking, and seemed to have the most fun. They were always laughing in the hallways and talking about the crazyy things they did that weekend.
I tried several sports over the years, including softball, track, cross country, and even a short stint at golf, but I was terrible at all of them. I was the one who was always chosen last for teams.
The one sport I was decent at was tennis.
The problem was that none of my coaches believed in me. They assumed that the basketball stars would be the best tennis players, giving them the top seeds during our tournaments, and didn’t give me a chance to prove myself.
At the same time, the few chances I did get to play, I didn’t do anything spectacular that would demonstrate my ability to my coaches. My playing was mediocre at best.
When you have low self-esteem and the outside world reinforces your belief, it creates a vicious cycle of defeat
My senior year of high-school, I finally had a coach who believed in me.
This made a world of difference.
Coach Teresa Miller not only believed in me, but she stayed after our regular school practices to continue hitting with me, which helped me get better. She also gave me the book The Inner Game of Tennis, which teaches essential lessons about mindset that extend far beyond tennis.
Having this boost of confidence in turn motivated me to work harder and continue improving my game
I bought a ball machine so that I could play whenever I wanted and refine my strokes. Often I’d play for three hours on the weekends.
Now, during my school years, I had many wonderful teachers who were also mentors, praising my writing ability and encouraging me to keep developing it. That’s one of the good things about going to a small school: being part of a caring, supportive community.
But this experience with tennis had a major impact because while school had always been my thing, sports were NOT my thing (as much as I fantasized about being a star athlete).
Realizing that I could thrive in an area where I’d previously struggled was groundbreaking. Imagine what else I could do?
Having a mentor who believes in you, combined with steady work and a positive attitude, will make you unstoppable
Throughout my life, I’ve found more mentors.
I’d always been a strong writer. But creative writing? Not so much. My first serious attempt at short fiction was pretty embarrassing — you can read about it here.
Then I took a fiction writing workshop with Aimee Bender.
Through her approach and her confidence in me, she helped me uncover a new side of myself as a writer. Gone was the labored, overwrought writing trying so desperately to say something profound and life-altering.
In its place was a lighter, more playful prose. Funny, even.
My writing grew in ways I never would have conceived of.
With the help of a mentor, you create the momentum you need to reach unprecedented heights
Later, I encountered other writing teachers who played instrumental roles in my growth — Ben Ehrenreich and Benjamin Weissman at Otis College. Dr. Jilly Dreadful with The Brainery, a speculative fiction writing program.
Each of them pushed me to grow as a writer and believed in me more than I believed in myself. Every time I feel like quitting or putting off my writing goals for another year, I remind myself of all the people I would be letting down.
Now my boyfriend, Isaiah Frizzell, himself a screenwriter, has helped me continue to grow through his support. He’s influenced me to prioritize my writing and not shove it onto the “when I have time” list along with a million other things.
So where do you find your mentor?
Often you find your mentors accidentally, through people you encounter. Other times, you need to seek them out.
Sometimes they directly come into your life, while other times they influence you from afar. Either way, the result is the same. They open you up to possibilities that had previously been latent within you and inspire you to work harder than ever before.
1. Look Around You
All around you are potential mentors. Your family, friends, bosses and coworkers.
As I mentioned, it was my teachers and coaches who largely impacted my life. It seems obvious. After all, that’s their job, right? But at the time, it wasn’t obvious.
It’s only in retrospect I realized how much they helped me. This goes to show that you should never take anyone for granted.
Even your “enemies” can become unlikely mentors. How?
They can teach you valuable lessons about yourself that you can’t get from anyone else.
For instance, when I was in middle-school, I was always scheming to get in with the cool crowd. I’d try to impress them with facts about celebrities and NBA stars I knew nothing about, or laugh at their jokes when I was totally confused.
One day in the locker room, they called me out on it. It was kind of like that scene in Carrie, only without the tampons or nudity.
This was humiliating for sure, but it taught me that I shouldn’t try to impress others by pretending to be someone I’m not. Those who I’m meant to be friends with will appreciate me for who I am. And the ones who don’t? Well, sometimes you just have to accept that it’s not a good fit.
I’ll admit this has been a hard lesson for me because I’m a people-pleaser by nature. But like many lessons, integrating it into your life isn’t an overnight process. It’s much like working out in that there’s going to be ups and downs. But each time you regress, you just hit the reset button and get back on track.
2. Find Communities of Like-Minded People
You can also actively seek out groups of people who share your interests. In the process, you’ll often find a mentor. This could be either the group leader or another member.
After I finished school, I was lonely and adrift. School naturally brings you together with people who you vibe with, but after school, you have to be more proactive.
That’s when I discovered meetup.com, where you can connect with people who share your interests. I joined a few writers’ groups over the years, including one where we produced an anthology of short stories all centered around an unreliable narrator theme.
Sara McBride, the woman who hosted the group, helped shape my writing immeasurably. At the time, my fiction still suffered from being too “writerly” and abstract. Basically, I was trying to emulate the elusiveness of my favorite writers, but because I wasn’t as masterful, my stories were just a confusing mess.
When Sara gave me feedback on the draft of the story I submitted to the anthology, it was hard to take at first. But her feedback steered me in the right direction, molding me into the writer I am today.
Now that my time is more limited, I’m involved solely in virtual communities. I have to say, though, that the connections are just as valuable!
Facebook offers a treasure trove of online communities, even if you have to do a bit of searching to find the best ones.
Nicole Akers and Frank McKinley of The Tribe Builder’s Network and Nicole Bianchi, who hosts Inkwell Writers Mastermind, have all offered incredible support both directly through the opportunities they’ve provided me and through their wonderful articles which have taught me invaluable tips about the writing process.
Best of all, they foster communities of writers who support and inspire one another. People who do not simply drop promotional links and leave. They stay to help and get to know one another. Even though I’ve never met any of the group members in person, I would consider them friends!
I also appreciate Cate Rosales of Becoming a Blogger for all the time she spends into answering member’s questions, engaging us in stimulating conversations, and sharing her expertise on all that goes into building a successful blog.
Overall, I’ve found that people in Facebook groups tend to be very positive and encouraging, giving you the push you need to finish a project or embark on a new endeavor!
3. Take Courses
Just because you’re out of school doesn’t mean the learning, or the support systems that are naturally built into a school, have to end. You always have the option to take online courses.
Many of my favorite leaders in personal development function like mentors because they inspire me to dig deeper and be my best possible self. When you take a course from them, it’s like they are speaking directly to you and you have your own personal mentor!
Here are a few of my favorites:
- Tony Robbins
Tony is such a dynamic speaker that it’s not hard to understand how he’s amassed a devoted following. Hearing him speak about how his personal struggles molded him into the person he is today with such conviction always stirs up my emotions. Here he talks about his own mentor, Jim Rohn.
With his programs, you’ll feel as though you have a friend by your side, pushing you to produce results beyond what you thought possible. Click the banner below to discover his top programs. Whether your goal is to lose weight, master your finances, or build lasting relationships, there’s something for you!
- Brian Tracy
Sometimes the process to get from Point A to Point B feels overwhelming, if not impossible. What I love about Brian Tracy is how he breaks everything down into simple steps with his warm, direct approach.
I also like his emphasis on how we create our own luck. Life is not something that happens to you but rather is something you create both through your mindset and through the small choices you make every day.
Below you can find a range of resources that will teach you the 7 steps to successful habits, how to transform any obstacle into personal growth, and how to double your productivity AND time off.
- Larry Crane of the Release Technique
Larry Crane isn’t your typical mentor. He can come across as a little brusque at times.
However, it is precisely his straightforward, no-nonsense approach that makes his teachings so effective. At the core of the Release Technique is the simple notion that life would be so much easier — blissful, even — if you simply let go of all your toxic emotions as they came up instead of suppressing them.
It’s inspiring to hear him speak candidly about how he learned to drop his anger issues (his employees used to be afraid to approach him about issues…not good if you own a business!) and overcome depression.
Click below to learn how you can instantly dissolve any issues you’re experiencing and experience unlimited abundance.
How Can You Be a Mentor?
When you’ve received guidance and support, it feels equally good to pay it forward.
With my students, I always try to help them develop their seeds of potential. In particular, I reach out to those students who need a little confidence boost and find ways for them to excel.
Additionally, I help people in my writing communities by sharing their work and giving comments and feedback.
Look around for people in your community, online or offline, who may need support. Find ways you can help. No matter how seemingly small, they’ll appreciate the gesture!
Who have been some of your mentors? How have they helped you to grow?