Over the years I have collected a variety of uncles, father-figures, coaches, big-bothers, and accountability partners that went on to shape and influence my life.
These individuals offered me guidance, called me on my nonsense, set an ideal for me to live up to, and offered me a hand up when I needed it.
My successes have been because of these mentors. Sadly, the culture of mentorship is dissolving.
The main thing I look for in a mentor is that their advice is “autobiographical”. This means, if they are broke or have a trust fund, I don’t ask them about finances; If they are fat I don’t ask them about health, and exercise; If they are a priest, I don’t ask them about sex; stay within their speciality.
Secondly, I look for someone that I respect. Just because someone is accomplished, doesn’t mean you can respect them.
This is important, as we are rarely able to take the advice (and use it) of someone that we don’t respect; we need to see them as our better.
It is important that this person doesn’t have any conflicts of interest in our being successful. What I mean by this is, if you stand to ever be their competition it is possible that their mentorship position will be used to influence you in ways that are in their best interests, and not your own.
I have had situations in which odd jealousy developed on the part of once trusted mentors, and I had to sever the relationship.
The first time it happened it, I was younger, and it was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. The easiest way to deal with situations like this is to cut your losses, and walk away.
Finally, you can’t expect your mentor to be a perfect example in every aspect of their life.
A good father may be a terrible martial artist or your yoga teacher may be bad with money or women.
My solution for this is to have a variety of mentors that guide me in different areas of life.
“Iron Sharpens Iron Just as One Man Does Another.”
~Solomon circa 920BC .
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