Today, my mentor Gabrielle Bernstein was featured on the cover of the New York Times Sunday Styles section! It’s really no surprise to me, because her intention is to spread love and light to as many people as possible. The NYT article is a manifestation of that generous intention. In that picture above, Gabrielle’s in the center. I’m the blonde sitting next to her. This was taken during a group meditation and life coaching session. Seeing the story in the paper today really made me think about how grateful I am to have had a mentor for the past couple of years.
Having a mentor can really be uplifting and life changing. If anyone out there has been contemplating getting a mentor or you don’t really understand the point of a mentor, this post is for you!
First of all…what’s a mentor?
A mentor is someone who gives you advice or helps you out in a certain area of your life. A mentor can guide you through a process that they’ve already completed and you want to complete too. A mentor has something you admire – something you’d like to achieve in your own life. As Gabrielle says, “Find someone who has what you want – and do what they do!”
How can a mentor help me achieve my goals?
Trying to figure out everything on our own can be confusing and time-consuming if we’re embarking on a new journey. Of course, we all have the capacity to figure things out on our own – but having guidance can help you become clearer on what you want and how to get there. If you’re going to run a marathon, wouldn’t it be helpful to talk to someone who has run a marathon before, and get the inside info? A mentor can speak to you from personal experience, tell you what to watch out for, relate to how you’re feeling, and provide shortcuts for you. You’ll start to realize what works for you and what doesn’t. For instance, if you’re trying to start a business, find a mentor who has had success in that area – you’ll learn what worked for them, combine their advice with the info you already have, and really begin to find your “perfect” formula for success. Those seemingly unattainable goals start to feel easier – because after all, everyone who is successful in any area had to start somewhere! Your mentor has been in your shoes.
What kind of mentor should I look for?
Your mentor should be someone who has what you want. He or she doesn’t necessarily need to possess every single quality you want – you aren’t trying to become a clone. You can have many different mentors for many different subjects. When I first met Gabrielle I needed help in a few different areas – health, relationships, spirituality and career in particular. Since she’s a life coach, she has been able to give me guidance in a broad range of areas, but I’ve had mentors for specific subjects as well. Your mentor should be aligned with whatever your goals are at this moment. Do you want to lose weight? Learn how to have a healthy relationship? Start a blog? Manage your finances better? Kick your drinking habit? Become more organized? Figure out what your passions are? Look for someone who has done it already. If you’re envious that someone has what you want, turn your envy into inspiration and ask that person for advice.
Is it time-consuming to have a mentor? How do I get a mentor?
Believe it or not, I’ve never even spoken to some of my mentors! I consider a mentor to be someone who knows how to do something I want to do, and has achieved a level of success that I’d like to have one day. Luckily, I have the internet to find those mentors and read about their experiences. These mentors don’t even know they’re my mentors. Steve Pavlina and Darren Rowse are two of my blogging mentors. Heidi Swanson is one of my cooking and blogging mentors. Julia Cameron is one of my mentors. Why do I call them my mentors? Because I read their sites or books frequently and take advice from them about how to achieve my personal goals. So don’t be afraid to find mentors this way – you don’t have to even contact them. They post their information on the internet and in books because they WANT you to find it and learn from them!
On the other hand, you can find a mentor who is willing to talk to you on the phone, email you and meet with you in person, too. There are plenty of therapists out there that you can talk to, of course – but you can find this mentorship for free too. It could be someone you already know. If you admire something they’ve done, offer to take them out to lunch or coffee in exchange for some advice. Maybe it’s a higher-up in your company. Maybe it’s the owner of your favorite coffee shop. Maybe it’s an acquaintance who just seems really happy with their life. Maybe it’s your mom!
Another great way to learn from someone is to be of service to them. If you want to learn some tricks from a specific person, ask them if there’s any way you can help them out. You can learn a lot about how someone does things just by being around them and helping out with their work. Offer to do this for free. You could volunteer or intern for a person that inspires you. You’ll be building your own knowledge base on the subject. And hey, you may have something your potential mentor needs help with! Write down a list of your skills. Offer your services.
Can’t seem to find one-on-one time with someone you admire? See if they do any public speaking or networking events you can attend. Check to see if there’s someone who has similar experience but seems more accessible. Look for a book on the subject. Start hanging around places where people have what you want. If you want to be a chef, eat at restaurants you love and ask if the chef would be willing to answer a couple of questions. If you want to be a personal trainer, book a training session and ask them questions during the workout. You’ll find that many successful people are willing to give advice and discuss how they reached their goals!
Join an online social network related to your goals. There are social networking sites full of support on a variety of subjects from exercising to quitting smoking to eating raw foods– do a little research!
Find mentors in your immediate circle. Does one of your friends have excellent organizational skills? Do you have a co-worker who really seems to be able to balance her workload with her personal life? Did someone you know from high school start their own business or lose 20 pounds? Maybe your brother or sister has a successful marriage that you admire. Ask them for tips. My mom and dad are both mentors for me in different areas of my life. I admire my dad’s intelligence and knowledge about technology, business and how things work- and my mom’s passion for adventure and exercise. I look at what they’ve done for inspiration. As I said, a mentor doesn’t have to be an exact clone of your perfect self. They can have just one or two things you’d really love to have.
If you’re a woman and you’re looking for a mentor, check out HerFuture – a site for women to find or be mentors. Search for something you’re interested in or browse through profiles to find women that inspire you. Connect with them and ask questions. Watch this video of Gabrielle on NBC, explaining her take on mentors.
Good luck. Potential mentors are everywhere.