Quite a few people from this community are curious about creative ways to identify and approach mentors. It’s a valuable and interesting topic, one we’ll explore over the next few weeks.
However, since the purely technical aspects of this topic have already been articulated by people who specialise in the matter, let’s not pollute the Internet with yet another “how-to” article.
(That said, next week I’ll share a few excellent resources and authors for your edification).
But before you start off on the “how” aspects of journey, I want to make sure that you get closer in touch with your “why”. Because the “why” informs the “how” and influences who you end up with as your teacher – which will, in turn, determine the “what” of your life.
And that’s not something that you want to screw up.
Consider yourself warned that the journey I’m about to take you on flies in the face of current and traditional Western wisdom. Make sure you’re sitting down.
Now let me ask you a question.
Do You Feel Like You’re Always Running?
- Do you wake up with your brain already racing ahead to work?
- Do you brush your teeth while worrying about a deadline at work?
- Do you dream about work?
- Do you eat while consuming media or dealing with work or family swirl?
- When you’re on a holiday, do you rush from place to place to lunch to dinner to city to town to tour to visit with distant relatives to…to…to…?
When Was The Last Time You’ve Stopped?
Here’s the thing.
The part of you which keeps you running forward is your mind. Your mind is an incredible tool, one that is perfectly built for planning, strategising and execution.
A razor-sharp, strong, disciplined mind is not unlike a Spartan warrior who can cut down anything or anyone that stands between him and his goal. Beyond a certain point, however, being stuck in your mind becomes a dead end.
Because there are situations in life where you need to be Yoda, not Leonidas.
Choosing A Mentor Is One Of Those Situations.
If you embark on a journey to seek a mentor at a time when your life resembles a perpetual sprint, you’ll simply find someone who will help you run faster.
Maybe, just maybe, you’re at a point in your life where “faster”, “bigger”, “wealthier”, “more successful” are no longer “better”.
You’re sensing a certain hollowness from the rewards of the mind’s work.
You’re craving more depth. You’re ready for a different, more empowering, more fulfilling context for your life. And you need a teacher who can take you down that rabbit hole.
(Related: How To Deal With A Toxic Boss).
Discovering Your Inner Yoda.
A deeper wisdom and intelligence – you might call it intuition or a sense of purpose – exists within each one of us.
It’s always there, ready for you to tap into. Like an inner teacher. Thing is, all the running, mental work and noise often drowns out its voice.
This means that if you want more out of life, you have to do something counter-intuitive: stop.
It’s not easy, because you were born into a society that values great sprinters. But ask yourself: How many of the sprinters you know live whole, fulfilled, meaningful lives?
How many of their actions are tied to a deep sense of purpose? What (and who) do they leave in their wake?
Knowing you and your potential, I’d like to issue you with a challenge. As in, the Arielle 7-Day Yoda Challenge. To complete it successfully, follow these steps:
1. Stay Still.
Value stopping. Force yourself to be still for 15 minutes each day. You can try this seated or lying down – whatever works best for you. Count your breaths. Stop thinking. Start feeling.
You’ll catch yourself lost in thought (about your taxes, children or boss) almost immediately. That’s normal. Notice that you’ve veered off and let go of that thought.
Breathe through your nose, into your stomach – perhaps all the way into your toes.
2. Sweat More And Eat Well.
The goal of this challenge is to get you out of your head and into your body.
If your body becomes a nicer place to inhabit, you’ll be less resistant to spending time there (I’m not talking about aesthetics, but your experience of living in it).
Rethink your approach to nutrition, hydration and exercise for the next 7 days.
Drink 2-3 litres of water each day (more if you’re in a hot climate), include plenty of vegetables in your diet, cut down on caffeine, booze, fried food and reduce sugar (especially at breakfast and late at night).
Do exercise intense enough to make you sweat – at least twice this week. Lift weights that are heavy enough to make you want to grunt. Run with dogs unleashed at the beach. Join a salsa class.
Whatever is your thing.
3. Let Go Of Media Junk.
Many of you responded with positive comments about last week’s “Let Go of Facebook” message.
I challenge you to embrace this habit fully for another week.
If you have “time to kill” and are tempted to zone out on Facebook, just sit for 5 minutes instead. Be still. Notice your breath.
Feel your toes.
Notice the temptation to distract yourself. Don’t beat yourself up over it. It just means that you’re human. Finally, reduce (or better still – eliminate) your consumption of nightly “news”, morning shows and [gasp] reality TV.
What Will Happen?
When I do this practice I tend to gain clarity. My intuition becomes stronger.
The right teachers appear in my life, often in unexpected forms. Answers to questions which my mind can spend months wrestling with become obvious.
I also experience an alignment between the deepest parts of me, my actions and, consequently, the results I produce. As a nice side benefit, I become less reactive to situations and people around me.
More confident. A nicer person to be around (so I’m told). But your experience will be unique to you.
And, if you choose to take up the challenge, I’d love to hear about your journey.
Until then, as you prepare to fight the good fight for a meaningful, big life, take this inspiration from Muhammad Ali (RIP, Champ):
“Silence is golden when you can’t think of a good answer.”
PS. To continue identifying and finding the right mentor, take a look at Part 2 of this series.