4-7 Mentors in Your Life

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It's that mentors can help you view the world in a different way, so you can more easily discover and go in the direction you determine is best for you, not to mention that they can have ideas and context that can change your life. Arnim Rodeck, for example, was an electrical engineer who made an enormous career change when he decided to become a creative wood worker, a craft at which he would eventually become world class. For example, in learning experiences as different as acquiring a new language or training a horse, you may interact with a mentor who lives far away from you.

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[MUSIC] There is one important aspect of learning, that we haven’t yet touched on. Yet it can be one of the most important aspects of learning of all. That is mentors. Mentors aren’t necessarily parent-like figures who spend many hours brainstorming and guiding you to your future. In fact, a mentor can be as simple as someone who says, or does, something that causes you to think and make valuable changes. Or, who gives you insight about your life. You don’t even have to meet a mentor in person. It’s not that mentors can, or even should, tell you what you should be doing. It’s that mentors can help you view the world in a different way, so you can more easily discover and go in the direction you determine is best for you, not to mention that they can have ideas and context that can change your life. Our lives are filled with a wide variety of mentors who help us in many ways large and small. Even rude and mean people can be mentors to us since they can show us what we don’t want to be like ourselves. And sometimes their feedback and thoughts although painful can be helpful in the grand scheme of things. Arnim Rodeck, for example, was an electrical engineer who made an enormous career change when he decided to become a creative wood worker, a craft at which he would eventually become world class. Arnim differentiates his mentors into two different types. » Hi there, there are several type of mentors, the ones who actually pump us up and energize us, or the ones who actually could be much more critical and actually won’t tolerate any excuses. They might be much more stern and demanding people but at the end of the day, the insight we gain from them is invaluable. » Mentors can even be online nowadays. For example, in learning experiences as different as acquiring a new language or training a horse, you may interact with a mentor who lives far away from you. My co-instructor, Terry Sejnowski, also has some thoughts here. » The brain works best with concrete examples not abstract aspirations. A good place to start reinventing yourself is to ask, who has had the most influence on my life and who has inspired me to start a new life? Influential mentors have motivated me to become who I am today. In high school, I joined the radio club and I learned electronics and Morse code. The radio club had tracked the Sputnik, the first satellite to circle the earth at a time when the US was taken by surprise. I was asked, what is your mission? We all have a mission in life but if you don’t ask yourself the question, you may never find the answer. I still ask myself this question because the answer keeps changing. Asking yourself the right question about your life is half the battle, where do I want to be next month or next year? This will shape what skills you’ll need and what steps you should take to acquire them. Persistence is a virtue. Don’t let setbacks keep you back. Motivation can also come from working closely with someone who shares the same goals. Projects with short-term goals can focus the mind wonderfully. The persistence needed to achieve long term goals can be sustained by collaborations that are more like marriages. These relationships can be the most satisfying, choose them wisely. Mind shifting may mean re-evaluating your relationships, finding new short-term collaborations, and cultivating longer-term ones that take you in new directions. » A word of advice, it’s unwise to approach a person you don’t know and ask them to be your mentor. This can put that person in an uncomfortable situation, after all they have no idea what your expectations of a mentor are. And truthfully, they have no idea whether you might be a fit for them. In fact, it’s often better to avoid asking someone to be your mentor, even if you consider them to be a mentor to you. If the fit is right, a relationship will develop organically, and in the course of this relationship, you may only get tiny snippets of occasional insight from your mentor. But this can still be very valuable. Because while these snippets may take only a few seconds for the mentor to say, they can nevertheless have a profound influence on you and your career. So don’t discount the importance of even the most trivial seeming exchanges with someone you consider a mentor. Finally, if it seems reasonable look for ways to make yourself somehow useful to your mentor. Just as they are for you. Ensuring that the benefits of the relationship go both ways will make it that much stronger. And if you’ve had a positive mentoring experience, look for ways to pay it forward by mentoring others in ways similar to the mentoring that has helped you. [MUSIC]

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