How Do I Find A Mentor?

Steven Kneiser
5-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.”

No ordinary mentor will do
You need the mentor

You need the ultimate cheat code

You’re serious
You’re ready to level up
You’re ready to do whatever it takes


In classic underdog stories,
they always stumble across The Person™
hardened by decades of wordly wisdom

Oh yeah, they always die too
…so our hero can replace them?
*ehm*
Stop texting during the movie

So what gives?
Where are all the knights in shining armor?

It doesn’t help that the same people
who are vocal about mentorship
often aren’t the best pick


The Half-Life of Advice

Some words just hit you at the right time,
stroking the flames of fresh wounds
opening up that Door #3

but sometimes you hit a dead-end

Sometimes the best way to speed up
is to switch lanes & get around
someone or some thing

Are you still driving behind that slowpoke?


TODO: multi-pane illustration coming soon!


Convergent Advice:
Feedback

Who said you were pre-destined
for just one mentor?

What about “getting outside your head”
screams “one, true, all-knowing person”?

Everyone you will ever meet
knows something you don’t

(& vice versa)


When I need business advice,
should I seek out “business expert”
or talk with more of my customers?

Sometimes, getting perspective is overkill
when you really just need feedback

Typically, you just need more of it
Often, you just need it sooner

Feedback is why I prefer tennis to homework


I label feedback “Convergent Advice”
because it helps you converge
it helps you zoom in
it helps you settle

I shared one technique over here

Overwhelmed by the trivial many?
Feedback finds the essential few

.
.
.
but what if you’re stuck with too few?


Divergent Advice:
Perspective

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?

I know
Stupid question
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



*ehm*

Maybe someone who knew you for decades
Maybe even a paid coach or consultant
Maybe just a well-meaning friend

What the heck is going on there?


3 words: Suspension of Disbelief

NOTE: This is 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. (because that’s precisely what you need for perpsective, a suspensions of disbelief, or a diffuse mode of thinking where your mind wanders beyond the open gate that it doesn’t bother to explore beyond)

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, and start realizing that the best sources for personal growth are often much closer than you think. This is why you shouldn’t learn “Business™” from Forbes, Entrepreneur, or Bloomberg articles …you’ll get more out of the people who are trying to figure it out closer to you. They’re 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 & not able to thoroughly bridge that divide. That’s what you’re here for anyways! Bridge that divide [between you & them].

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 that 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.

To be continued: on becoming someone worthy of world-class mentorship


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