How Do I Find A Mentor?
7-minute read ⚠️ Work In Progress
“I wish someone had told me:
‘there ARE others just like you
…but distributed more evenly around the globe, just not clustered in your city and around you.’ “
I see what you’re lookin’ for
No ordinary mentor will do
You need the mentor
You need the ultimate cheat code
You’re ready to level up
You’re ready to do whatever it takes
In classic underdog stories,
this is when our hero goes for a walk
& they always stumble across The Person™
hardened by decades of wordly wisdom
Oh yeah, they always die too
…so our hero can replace them?
I don’t write the rules
So what gives?
HOW DO WE “go for a walk”?
Where are all the knights in shining armor?
The mentor who is too busy
The mentor who is often reluctant
The mentor focused on the fundamentals
not someone who gives Leadership Seminars™
Warning: they don’t give easy answers
The Best force you to face paradox
& discover the truth for yourself
Let’s find our mentor!
…but first you must learn when NOT to find one
The Half-Life of Advice
Some words just hit you at the right time
just stroke the flames of fresh wounds
just open up that Door #3
but sometimes you hit a dead-end
What got you from A to B
ain’t getting you from B to C
Stop honking & switch ~>
~> switch lanes, so you can speed around that someone or something. You don’t put up with it in traffic so why does your growth, ideology, or lifestyle have to be any different? Stop driving behind that slowpoke. You’ve got places to go, people to see, & things to do.
TODO: multi-pane illustration coming soon!
Who said you were pre-destined
for just one mentor?
What about “getting outside your head”
screams “one, true, all-knowing person”?
Sometimes, getting perspective is overkill
when you really just need feedback
Typically, you just need more of it
Often, you just need it sooner
Let’s say I have a 🌈 Business Idea™
Should I seek out “business expert”
or just talk with more customers?
Feedback is why I preferred tennis to homework
- Feedback on homework?
- Feedback in tennis?
Everyone you will ever meet
knows something you don’t
(& vice versa)
I label feedback as “Convergent Advice”
because it helps you converge
it helps you zoom in
it helps you settle
Overwhelmed by the trivial many?
Feedback finds the essential few
Don’t get lost seeking wisdom
when fresh eyes will do
but what if you’re stuck with too few?
“A/B test everything, and you’ll get stuck on the treadmill of local maxima.
A/B test nothing, and you’ll leave lots of compounding growth on the table.
A/B test optimizations, not product concepts.”
–Julie Zhuo, Design VP @ Facebook
Get Feedback to optimize your current self,
not find your future self
…that’s what Perspective is for
Now we’re really talkin’!
Perspective is for unknown unknowns
that you haven’t even realized
that you don’t know yet
when what got you here
ain’t gettin’ you there
What if you’re not even asking the right questions?
You need “Divergent Advice”
with answers that don’t sit right
answers that only spawn more questions
Here’s another perspective:
Have you ever ignored advice?
Sorry I even asked
Probably not the case with you
You’re way smarter & attractive-er than me
If we shared the same parents,
you’d clearly be the favorite
…this stays between us
Where were we?
So have you ever ignored advice?
You may have even solicited it!
Maybe an extra eye from a coworker
Maybe even a paid coach or consultant
Maybe someone who knew you for decades
What the heck is going on there?
Suspension of Disbelief
“the intentional avoidance of critical thinking or logic in examining something surreal, such as a work of speculative fiction, in order to believe it for the sake of enjoyment.”
NOTE: This is a working draft of a raw brain-dump that I’ll revisit & refine later (thanks for being patient! I’d rather get the ideas out sooner than procrastinate on getting them perfect on the first try)
Perspective comes in many forms,
but what are you willing to accept?
Have you ever gotten advice from someone so close to you, that you almost disrespect their credibility?
Hear me out…
Have you ever gotten identical advice from someone less familiar, yet really took it to heart? Sometimes you just need a fresh face, someone who helps you suspend your stubborn disbelief (because you can’t rationalize “oh that’s just what Ricky would say”), someone who can really speak your language, or someone who really grips your attention & respect.
That’s how Perspective works: a Suspension of Disbelief
Your mind sets aside the typical thought patterns (entering a “diffuse mode”) & wanders much more freely beyond the rigid boundaries of self-censorship
For example, when you start calculating a tip at a restaurant, your brain does a great job at focusing your ideas so that “The Pyramids” & “what I read on the internet last night” don’t interrupt your thinking
At any point in time, you can only grasp so many new ideas at once. There’s a context-switching cost/burden/debt that comes from interacting with someone who is in a different context. Stop praising the obvious big names in your field & start noticing the best sources for personal growth within your immediate reach.
This is why you shouldn’t learn “Business™” from the big names like Forbes, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg, etc.
Shark Tank probably won’t be your salvation
…you’ll get more out of the people who are trying to figure it out who are closer to you. The best for you are often just 3 months to 3 years ahead of you in your journey. You need to find the people that are just far enough to have substantial ability & availability to help you, but not so much that they’re both divorced from your context.
You need people who can bridge that divide using relevant modern techniques. There’s a good chance Those who came before you found a window of opportunity that has since closed. That’s what you’re here for anyways! Bridge that divide between you & them. Don’t push too much without others pulling.
It’s fascinating how much we obsess over getting perspective from others (e.g. I’m going to find someone whose perpsective I uniquely value) when most of the perspective has more to do with US than anyone else. There might be the perfect monk for you in a small corner of the earth somewhere, but you’re making an extreme trade-off between what you percieve to be correct versus what’s actionable enough to help your context today. Sometimes you don’t have months & years to invest.
What do I mean?
The best teacher is the one
who speaks your language
Find the others
who speak your language
This is yet another reason why most ideas come from a diversified portfolio of peers, compared to the wise old sage that has wandered all the lands. If you’re pursuing specialized knowledge in a very specific craft (e.g. sports, chess, storytelling), then there’s value to seeking out the true grandmasters and investing years to really soak up their knowledge, but I advocate a much more practical portfolio of living & breathing communities of people to breathe perspective into your life. Best of all, you won’t fall so hard into the shortcomings of one teacher’s blindspots. Often enough, you end up discovering a better teacher than if you’d have committed to the first one you came across.
To be continued: on becoming someone worthy of world-class mentorship. …umm, this draft is starting to take on the water-weight of 2 related topics that should really be seperate essays. I want these to be focused & actionable, so I’ll divide them up soon
Got your dream team?
This is your personal Board of Advisors
You’re running a company: You, Inc.
Once every month,
send separate, personalized emails:
NOTE: this section is particularly rough & incomplete
- Share feedback on their public work (recent, ideally)
- Any updates on your efforts with their previous advice (& results no matter how bad. This is the best part, building their trust in your commitment to testing their ideas)
- Share your biggest uncertainty/concern/confusion (as clearly & succinctly as possible …sometimes you can already imagine their response & end up answering your own question before you even have to hit send!)
- A singular, focusing call-to-action: “am I asking the wrong questions?” “” “do you know anyone I should speak with?” etc
- Easy out plus thank
⚠️ Full story: coming soon…