I have at times had various mentors in my life; probably not enough when I could have used one but I still managed. A mentor can be a great value to help you figure something out but not having one doesn’t reduce the responsibility. It is still up to us to apply, change, grow, transform and emerge on our own journey. That fact doesn’t change with or without mentors. The game changer for me was when I realized I needed to be my own mentor in many situations and how I used that experience to change how I saw the problem or challenge in front of me.
A mentor can be that one missing link. They can magically see something we can’t just yet. Their words become a source of knowledge and experience connecting within us like someone turned on the lights in a dark room. We feel empowered and motivated to overcome a challenge from this encounter. We see things differently and have more energy out of it that even our own movements seem stronger and more confident. The fear and things we saw limiting us are now removed because of that enrichment.
If you are only looking for answers and someone to make it easy for you, then you’re not looking for a mentor. The befores and afters of someone’s experience may compel and inspire us deeply to take action that can bring out transformation but that is not mentoring. Listening to someone who claims to understand our situation, what we are feeling and experiencing is great. It helps us feel like someone understands us and we are not alone in what we are going through. Yet being understood, feeling motivated and determined is not mentoring. It is inspirational and it is helpful but it is not that enriching experience of mentoring.
The problem with mentors and inspirational personalities is often not the mentor but within us. Our own expectations. We want answers we think can only come from somewhere else. We are in our own way of seeing things differently to solve a problem or overcome a challenge. A mentor can help in those situations and maybe share some knowledge to help us learn something new but the essence of it rests still with us individually. We must still put in the work on the treadmill, in our business and in our lives. We must inspire and motivate our own actions.
I think it is quite difficult to find a good mentor. That right person who gets us and understands our unique circumstances. Anyone can claim to be anything they want these days. Mentoring is just the latest buzzword that attracts a lot of different people, some knowingly and some not. Being able to speak words that spark action in others is inspirational and can also be a dangerous in the wrong hands. Yet when we find that exact right person who not only can inspire us with words but propel action through positive and healthy change that is powerful. Often though that is within us all along and a mentor helps to bring it out to the forefront where we can use it.
Untapping my own mentor within me has taken some time. I’ve had to admit when I was wrong too. Honesty is a big part of mentoring that I think discolors the dazzle of it sometimes. It is so easy to fall for the easy way out or the answer someone seems to offer to us. The magic diet pill that takes away the pain of losing weight so it just disappears without the discipline or changes needed. Mentoring reminds us of the work involved for true transformation to occur. It brings the element of reality to crush the lazy thinking and those not really ready to put in the work.
I have found myself blaming my mentor for the poor results and outcomes. It didn’t work, they must have been wrong. Yet that soul truth of it all was I failed them. I didn’t put in the work, follow the steps, figure out what worked for me and make it my own. It was me, not them for even if their advice had been wrong, it was still mine to figure out from there. There was no one else who owned that situation but me in the end. Realizing that put the perspective of mentoring as a guide and not the owner of my problems squarely where it belonged on me and them.
The world is full of good advice, inspirational words and influential people. Even with the best of them by our side it still comes down to how we use the words, advice and inspiration to define our own next steps. That can certainly be scary and intimidating but it is also liberating to realize how much control we actually have in our own lives to define our paths. It is also how we grow in living more naturally within ourselves and what we surround ourselves with, including the mentors we choose.
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