The Value of Mentors

How do you know when you have learned everything you need to know? When you graduate high school? College? When you become certified or licensed? Or, maybe, none of the above.

No matter how much you think you know at any given time, gaps in knowledge or understanding are inevitable. And eventually one of those gaps turns into a roadblock, limiting the happiness or success to which otherwise you would have access.

Who can help you get past roadblocks? Friends or family? They may know you very well, but just by virtue of their relationship to you they may experience the same roadblocks. Experts? They may know their subject area, but they don't know you.

Of course, today, you might Google to find a solution; but even that requires sufficient understanding to sort the bad information from the good.

A better strategy is to attach yourself to a mentor. Identify someone who is happy or successful in the way you would like to be; in life or work, maybe in an artistic endeavor. In fact, if you have varied interests you might have more than one mentor.

Get to know your potential mentor. See if their interests and values match yours. If so, allow them to get to know you; not the same way friends and family know you, but in ways appropriate to what you are seeking.

Then prepare yourself for cognitive dissonance. A good mentor has no need to please you, as friends and family do, so you may receive advice that contradicts your assumptions.

And though a good mentor may have much to teach you--as would an expert--their experiences should serve only to inform your own choices, not dictate them.

The best time to seek out a mentor is at the beginning of any new endeavor; such as a new job or career, marriage or childbearing, business or hobby. If you wait for an actual roadblock, it takes that much longer for a mentor to get up to speed in a way that could lead to real assistance.

Once you achieve the success to which you aspire, be prepared to serve as a mentor to others who share that aspiration. There is often much to be learned from the act of teaching.

Dr. Kweethai Neill gratefully acknowledges her mentors; leaders in education, health promotion, hypnotherapy and life skills; who have assisted her in becoming a Catalyst for Change, helping people who desire happiness and success.

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