How to learn from great mentors. A surprisingly simple method.
I have always valued and promoted the idea of having one or more mentors. For either technical advice or broader wisdom, a mentor can greatly help you speed up your learning curve, highlight possible pitfalls and be there when you need it the most. Indeed, while you can definitely learn the hard way from your mistakes, it is way more effective and less painful to learn from the mistakes of others and ultimately build good judgment (wisdom). However, while I met, worked and built relations with inspiring individuals, I thought I had missed the experience of being mentored.
Or at least, this was my understanding before reading Derek Sivers’ story:
I have three mentors.
When I’m stuck on a problem and need their help, I take the time to write a good description of my dilemma before reaching out to them. I summarize the context, the problem, my options, and my thoughts on each. I make it as succinct as possible so as not to waste their time.
Before sending it, I try to predict what they’ll say. Then I go back and update what I wrote to address these obvious points in advance. Finally, I try again to predict what they’ll say to this, based on what they’ve said in the past and what I know of their philosophy.
After this process, I realize I don’t need to bother them because the answer is now clear. If anything, I might email to thank them for their continued inspiration.
The truth is, I’ve hardly talked with my mentors in years. None of them knows they are my mentors. And one doesn’t know I exist.
I have now realized I often go through a similar process with my self-appointed mentors. I tend to ask myself what they would think or do if they were in my shoes now during critical moments. This inspiring process can unlock wisdom beyond time and space. If you have passionately studied or met a great mind, you already have access to a self-guided mentorship program. You can ultimately find yourself conversing with your mentors at any time. If you want to know more about my “mentors”, have a look at my selection of authors and books here.
Until next time, Sweat Your Assets.