Who is your mentor today? Who have your mentors been in the past? Are they family, community members, business professionals, celebrities, athletes, politicians or historical figures?
I personally have several mentors. Dead and Alive. I find that I can draw knowledge and wisdom from my ancestors. Learning about their struggles, their impacts or their sheer perseverance often helps me ‘fill my watering can’.
Why do I use that metaphor? Well, because I believe knowledge is the lifeblood that blossoms to new growth and learning. Either way, what I do know is that I draw strength from inspiring and impactful human beings. They are my water, sustenance, something that’s developed into more of a need than a want. The needs to be not only inspired, but to give you drive, if I had used a different metaphor, I would say fuel to your fire. When I face difficulties in my life, perspective can be the thing that can remind me of what I have, what I lack, and what I can stand to learn and gain. We’ve all had those days; you know the ones where things are disorganized and chaotic. Where the organizations don’t have solid design structures, lack clarity with regards to the business and division goals, and more importantly lack transparent leaders who are the embodiment of trust and integrity. Fluffy words, I know, but often times we get into these projects and get lost in the sea of work, life and chaos.
It’s hard to find clarity in strength. Especially if you have management without experience, lean budgets, and /or egomaniacs. It can be simply unbearable. Often times I find turning on some music (like if you were at the gym) and find an inspirational work space, alongside mentors, you can muster through. It isn’t so bad, but if you don’t have people who are experienced or trusted advisors you can look to for ‘strength’ it can be cumbersome. This is why I encourage a myriad of sources.
Family is always good, since most of them love unconditionally. But often times, they don’t understand your field, so you need to seek out people who understand your work culture or industry. At the same time, you as a mentee must be willing to listen and probe. Try to better understand your shortcomings, blind spots or more importantly opportunity areas. I also find a lot of strength in reading biographies of people who have carved or blazed their own trails in their lifetimes. I’ve noticed, reading and art are strong fuels for my own passion. For example, as a young woman I was introduced to Frida Kahlo, a Mexican artist who overcame several life challenges. She suffered for many years, but took her suffering and turned it into something she could offer to others, and in turn brought her pride and personal satisfaction. Since I admire her journey, I enjoy putting up copies of her art to be reminded of her struggle. It often can trigger me to step back, think through my situation differently or more importantly dig deeper inside myself for new strength and renewal.