I have a kick-ass mentor. I say this because she is amazing, but also because she metaphorically delivers a swift kick to my rear when I am in need of it.
We have lunch once a month, and at our November get-together I felt mopey and frustrated about a few things. She listened to me talk over our scrumptious soup, lasagna bites and red velvet cake at Canadian Brewhouse, and then she asked me several questions.
“Do you think you might be giving too much of your energy to other people’s opinions and not enough to your own abilities and intuition? Just because someone says something doesn’t make it the absolute truth. Trust yourself. Don’t give that power away to other people.”
Deep down, I knew she was right, but I still spent a few minutes arguing my reasons for why I did what I did. She listened patiently, then circled back to her point. She said, “You do best when you rely on your own abilities and interests. Maybe it’s time to take a break from what other writers are saying and doing online and simply focus on your own career path. You know what you want. Stop searching for permission from strangers or even friends. You don’t need it to keep pursuing your goals.”
Again, right on the money. This was still digesting, along with my food, when she hit me with, “How about slowing down and trying a calming practice like yoga? You’d benefit from deep breathing as a way to stop your mind from racing ahead. Live in the moment. Enjoy the journey. Don’t approach your career as a race to the finish line. Writing is supposed to be fun! Take it as it comes. Every step matters as it leads you to the next stage.”
This piece of stellar advice has been slowly sinking in over the last week. I am terrible at staying in the moment I’m living in. I can get off track far too easily. This is why my mentor is so important to my overall health. She can see when I’m veering from my true path and lovingly guide me back to the right place.
She helps me work through various sides of an issue or conflict but doesn’t hesitate to administer some tough love when required. I love it when she gently reminds me how far I’ve come and that I am capable of doing hard things. She cheerleads, at the same time as she challenges. I desperately need this. I think we all do.
A mentor is anyone a little further down the path from us. Mine has been writing, editing and speaking for seven years longer than me, so I have a lot to learn from her. And I’m constantly inspired by her authentic spirit, her ability to be herself in any situation, and her hopeful optimism. She gives me more light to live by. She tells me the tough things I need to hear to stop feeling sorry for myself and get moving in a positive direction again. She cheers, she coaches, she inspires.
If you don’t have a mentor like this in your life, I urge you to be on the lookout for one. Find someone you want to be like and spend some time in his or her company. If they will tell it to you straight, but with love, and occasionally make you snort with laughter, bravely ask that person to mentor you. I’ve had mine for four years now, and my life is better in every way because of her guidance, care and a carefully-timed kick to the ass.