Mentors are making a comeback. Especially in the high turnover, high competition world of tech, finding that one guide who will teach you everything you need to know to be a titan of industry is in high demand. I’ve met a lot great people over my career who I’m certain could have served as great mentors to me. Yet, I always struggled to commit and could never decide exactly who was the perfect fit. Of course, this wasn’t a reflection on them, but rather, it was a reflection on my indecision and my own reluctance to the traditional mentor/mentee relationship. It wasn’t until I read Tara Mohr’s Playing Big and started working with her 10-minute meditation that it really dawned on me—the best mentor for me is myself.
I know what you’re thinking : “How could you know it all?” It’s true, plenty of people have plenty of industry expertise to help you along the corporate ladder climb. But, what if you know, in your gut, that climb isn’t for you? Or, what if you choose a different route than your average industry peer? Then who do you turn to? Even the greatest of mentors may not have all the answers you need, especially when you take a path different from theirs. What worked for them may not work for you, and that’s ok, because no matter what turns you take, you will always know what’s right for you because of your own intuition.
Not sold yet? It’s a scary proposition to completely trust yourself, but when you think about it, you’re your best bet. Tapping into your intuition isn’t easy at first, but, it’s always there for you and, in the end, it’s always right. So how do you tap in and learn to really listen? I have a few tips and tricks that can help get you there:
- Spend some “Me QT”: What’s your favorite thing to do? What’s the activity or hobby that brings even a small sense of relaxation? I know a lot of people say running, journaling or yoga, but your activity can be anything. Driving, watching your dog play in the grass, cooking, even a glass of wine on your porch. Whatever gets you to that peaceful place of contemplation, where you become open to those deep truths and it’s quiet enough for you to hear them.
- Be the interviewer, and the interviewee: Once you find that zenning activity, ask yourself some easy general lifestyle questions and some not-so-easy career questions to get the self-mentoring conversation started. Am I more anxious than usual, and if so, is that from work or something else? What do I avoid doing and what do I seek out? What’s my best attribute and “super star” power? If I could do anything (without worrying about getting paid), what would it be? What are some things that I can do all day long while totally losing track of time? When do I feel flow? What’s the least favorite part of my job and what’s my favorite? What’s my most significant accomplishment and how did I feel while I was doing it?
- Get out of your head: Whether you’ve noticed or not, your body always tells you what’s wrong before your mind does. So, if you can’t yet answer those tougher questions, work your way from the outside in, getting in tune physically first. Notice if you’re more tired lately, or if your sleep patterns have changed. Perhaps you’re eating differently or have some abnormal aches and pains. Are you uncomfortable sitting with yourself or in need constant distraction? Any or all of these indicate your intuition is telling you something isn’t quite fitting right in your life.
So next time you’re searching for answers and someone to lean on, just sit, listen and you’ll find your mentor.
And now that you’re happily your own mentor and you’re following that intuition that says your current work situation isn’t cutting it—now what? Trust your gut!