Welcome to (or back to) our quest for identifying and approaching a great mentor. We started this journey here.
On the off chance you’re new to this party, last week I challenged you to open your mind about mentor selection. I strongly recommend that before you continue reading this post, you familiarise yourself with Part 1.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU SLOW DOWN?
While the mindfulness techniques from the Arielle Yoda Challenge sound simple on the surface, they take practice. That’s why we insisted on 7 days.
If you really took the challenge to heart, you were able to quiet the monkey mind for a bit. Maybe you began to hear your own voice emerge. Maybe tiny glimmers of truth began to surface around some big questions.
Like what you want out of yourself and your life. How you want to show up in the world. What you stand for as a person, and a professional.
Or maybe there were just more questions. Good. Keep them coming. No doubt they were insightful, useful, uniquely personal questions.
Attaining clarity in a culture of mind clutter is no small feat. But at the risk of sounding too much like Yoda, much to learn you still have. This is just the beginning.
Put on your jumpsuit. Strap on your parachute. Put the kids to bed. Keep breathing deeply.
We’re going back down the rabbit hole. This time you’re ready for it. So, here we go.
WHAT ARE YOUR CORE DESIRES?
It’s the question of a lifetime. Inspired by Internet marketing guru Frank Kern’s approach to self-exploration, our quest for an answer starts with defining…
Your perfect day.
Your mind is much clearer than it was a week ago. Time to get serious. There are two steps to this process:
1. Imagine That You Have No Limits.
There’s enough money, you can go anywhere in the world you want and no one is standing in your way.
2. You Are Mortal.
But before you decide that on your perfect day you’d head to Vegas in a diamond-plated Bentley to consume copious amounts of drugs and alcohol, remember it should be an average day. As in repeatable. Sustainable. You need to be able to survive it if you lived it over and over again, until you’re old.
Wow. Where are all those familiar excuses? You know—the ones who travel around with us like old, codependent friends.
Without the comfort of “impossible”, defining what we want is really hard work.
Notice if you can let your mind travel there, or if you’re clinging to some specific limitation. If you’re clinging, bring back your arsenal of tools from the challenge.
Breathe through it. Try to eliminate distractions. Try not to judge yourself. Forget about how many houses, cars, shoes, horses, whatever you’re into.
Uncovering what you really want isn’t about your stuff. This is your life we’re talking about. Repeat the scenario multiple times if necessary until you feel it, experience it.
As my first yoga teacher used to say when he uttered something profound:
LIFE IS AN EXPERIENCE, NOT A POSSESSION.
Freed from your mind clutter, your stuff and the usual obstacles, you’re able to dive deeper into details that are often more elusive.
1. WAKE UP. IT’S MORNING ON YOUR PERFECT DAY.
Just where did you wake up? What time is it? Are you alone, or with someone? What’s the first thing you do? Notice colours, sights, sounds, nature, animals, food.
What are you doing for a living? Where, how and with whom? What is the weather like?
Capture every aspect in your mind. Watch your thoughts—how are they in your perfect average day? More focused? More compassionate? More…? Less…?
2. MAKE YOUR WAY TO LUNCH AND INTO YOUR AFTERNOON.
What are you eating, where and who is with you? How are you spending your time? What is your life’s work? How do you feel in this perfect average moment?
As this day takes shape, who are the people that matter most to you?
Watch your thoughts. Watch your breath. Notice your feelings. What does being you feel like? Where are you most comfortable?
3. WIND DOWN YOUR DAY.
As afternoon transitions into evening, how are you spending your time? Are you with family, or working late? What is bringing you fulfilment? Why?
Does dinner find you cooking at home, or venturing out? Alone, in a group, or with that one special person?
How do you prepare for sleep? With a particular ritual? To bed early or late, alone or with someone? What would you dream about? The details matter. But the stuff doesn’t.
Watch your thoughts. Watch your dreams. When do you feel most like yourself? Listen.
Now, read this whole thing over again when you’re in a quiet place with at least 30 unscheduled minutes in front of you. An hour would be better.
Schedule this time for yourself this week while your mind is still quiet. Take notes. Journal about what you uncover.
Why all the focused effort to find a mentor? Again, Yoda put it best.
YOU MUST UNLEARN WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED.
Now that we’ve emerged from the rabbit hole, put your feet back on the ground. It’s time to start looking for a mentor.
Using your newfound clarity about when you’re happiest, what drives you and what you want your life to be about, you’ll know to look beneath the surface.
Sure, you love getting paid and getting promoted, but haven’t you just learned that isn’t enough? So maybe the Gordon Gekko style mentor isn’t the best match for you.
Yes, he or she might have some useful connections and skills, but now that the unlearning is done, what you really want to learn revolves around mindset.
Context, not content is what matters. (Remember, experience not stuff). Don’t just look at a potential mentor’s achievements. Look at their motivations.
In other words, look for a mentor who is living a life that you want to live. Because people who are ideologically aligned tend to connect in non-materialistic ways.
THEY SHARE A HIGHER PURPOSE.
You’ll find that once you stand in your true nature, recognising potential mentors will be easy. Approaching them will also be natural and free of anxiety. They’ll also be willing to help because your purpose is linked to their own.
And we’re not the only ones who feel this way—although we’re the first to go so deeply down the rabbit hole.
Earlier this year, Forbes contributor Kathy Caprino interviewed Front Line’s executive producer, Raney Aronson-Rath, who had this to say about finding the right mentor:
Incidentally, Caprino wrote a great, short piece on figuring out your life’s purpose. She writes:
“Here’s the bottom line: The answers to all your networking and career-building questions aren’t as far away as they seem. They’re right inside of you.”
While we’re on the topic of Forbes, their series of podcasts called #MentoringMoments is fertile ground for inspiration. It’s one of the resources we promised to share this week.
Yet another, more thorough resource is the HBR Guide to Getting the Mentoring You Need. If you’re looking for a one-stop shop on mentoring in all of its aspects, this is the book for you.
We’ve journeyed far in just two weeks. And we’ve further to go from here. Because self-discovery, like the universe, is infinite. Not to mention, endlessly rewarding if you expend the energy.
Remember, it’s your life and your career. So it’s worth every bit of effort you can muster.
For now, we’ll leave you with our inner guide’s most famous words of wisdom:
Do or do not, there is no try.