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How to find the perfect mentor or mentorship

How to Find the Perfect Mentor (without actually looking for one)

Apprenticeship, then, isn’t a class you take or a mentor you meet – it’s a choice you make… It’s the intentional process of choosing the opportunities you need to create your life’s work. – Jeff Goins

I used to think that mentorship needed to look a certain way. I thought I needed an older, wiser man to take me under his wing and walk down the path of growth with me. And it had to be done with a once-a-month coffee or lunch date or it wouldn’t work. But I was wrong.

Having a regular time with someone who’s agreed to come alongside you is obviously a great thing, and if you’re in that camp, you have something truly special. I see the value in it and I too would jump on the opportunity if it presents itself.

But it’s the whole searching thing that I’m learning just doesn’t work. It’s the sizing up of anyone who’s older or further along than I am, you know, like in college when you meet a girl for the first time and think, “be cool, this may be the one!” That’s the part that just doesn’t feel right to me. But rather than remaining in that mentor-less space, I’ve taken a look around and realized something: I’m already being mentored.

Choosing the Mentors That are Already There

If mentorship is for the sole purpose of growth and development, whether that be in business or life, then the opportunities surrounding us are astounding. But they must be recognized and identified. Once I realized I wanted to be an entrepreneur, I began devouring podcasts. I asked other entrepreneurs, searched online and found some amazing people with incredible podcasts telling the stories of people just like me who learned to do business well. And so my mentorship began.

Over time a shift began in my mind. Instead of feeling sorry that my mentorships were not traditional ones and that I’d spend more time in Atlanta traffic than in Starbucks soaking up wisdom, I decided that I was going to do everything I could to learn right where I was at. With the time I did have. I spend almost 2 hours in the car commuting each day. I was feeling trapped like I was wasting my time away. Now it has become my university, the podcasts, my professors.

A frustrating commute became a launchpad for success with a simple shift in perspective.

My Current Mentors: Podcasts

There really is no shortage of great podcasts out there. Whatever your passion is, chances are there’s someone online talking about it. Below are the top five podcasts that I’ve been learning from lately:

1. The Smart Passive Income Podcast with Pat Flynn
The Smart Passive Income Podcast - Pat Flynn

The Smart Passive Income podcast is by far the most informative one I listen to. I sometimes want to pull the car over and take notes on marketing ideas with this one. Simple and fun interviews with people, some high profile, some not, about their businesses and what they’ve learned. I like Pat because of his humility. He’s just a regular guy trying to figure out what works in online business.

2. StartupCamp with Dale Partridge
StartupCamp Podcast with Dale Partridge

Dale Partridge, of Sevenly t-shirt fame, uses his podcast to interview successful entrepreneurs. Dale is fantastic at getting to the person’s story and how their business affects their life and family. He’s a family man, and preaches that being successful in business and at home does not have to be mutually exclusive.

3. The Portfolio Life with Jeff Goins
The Portfolio Life with Jeff Goins

If you’ve read some of my other posts about Jeff Goins, you know I’m a fan. His podcast is shorter in length than the others I listen to, but covers all aspects of what it means to pursue the work you feel called to. Jeff is an author at heart, so has great insight into building an online audience.

4. The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes
Lewis Howes - The School of Greatness

Professional athlete turned online entrepreneur, Lewis Howes’ podcast is the most diverse in the list. That’s mostly because of the wide range of business leaders he interviews on his show. It can range from very instructional, to much bigger picture wisdom for your life.

So, Who Are Your Mentors?

Mentors are everywhere. In the right light, and with a little awareness, you can choose to grow in every opportunity. So if you’re struggling to find a traditional mentorship, relax. The time will come. But in the meantime, don’t neglect the mentors that are already there.

Do you have any untraditional mentors? Let me know who they are by leaving a comment!

 

A review of The Art of Work by Jeff Goins

Book Review: The Art of Work by Jeff Goins

We all want purpose in this world. As children, we dream big and believe we can do and be anything. Somewhere along the way, whether through daily routine or difficult situations, we resolve that maybe those dreams were just childish fantasies. But the yearning remains and eventually a voice awakens: “What if I can find purpose and chase my dreams?

In an earlier blog post, I mentioned on of my most impactful moments that came out of reading Jeff Goins’ book, The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do.

I’ve since completed it, and as an avid reader with a propensity toward book ADD, I’ve moved onto my next reading adventure. But I wanted to share the heavy impact that Goins’ book has had on me, the way I think, and my future.

What The Art of Work is About

Simply stated, this is a book about discovering your calling in life. Your passion. Your vocation. That one or few things that you come alive when doing and were meant to do.

I’m no stranger to self-help books and admit I was skeptical with the title of this book, but at the same time, intrigued. I was feeling like I was coasting through life with a lack of purpose so the title really grabbed my attention.

Often we read stories of the big guys – the Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg types – who were either so lucky or so brilliant to solve a problem in the world and gain success. But The Art of Work is a collection of stories of “regular” people, woven together to highlight the journey one takes to a calling. These are folks like you and me who I probably never would have heard of had I not read this book.

There’s a story of a 5 year old, left paralyzed and blind after an operation, and his father, who turn their situation into one of hope for others by completing triathlons together. A mother in Indonesia who was alienated by her family for choosing to not have an abortion who goes on to become one of the first doulas in her country. Or the family that moved from the comfort of South Africa to the coffee fields of Burundi to discover themselves and serve the coffee farmers of that region.

The stories in this book opened my mind up to a new hope. Not only is it possible to discover your calling, but it’s something that anyone, even I, can do. With a little work, patience and embracing of mystery, it can be done.

A Proven Path to Discovering Your Calling

So here’s the Cliff’s Notes version and what has impacted me.

1. Listen to Your Life

This was the grand-daddy of all take-aways for me because it allowed me to think about things that I have done all my life that point to me to my future work. You don’t “just know” what your calling is – a lie that has held me back for years – but it is an intentional process of discovery. Looking for clues along the way will point to your purpose. Do not sit and wait to know what to do. Start walking, believing you have a purpose and paying attention to clues along the way, and your calling will become clearer.

2. Accidental Apprenticeships

Everything that happens to us is a learning experience if we choose to see it as such. Sometimes life throws a major curve-ball. There is death and pain and things we don’t expect. But what if each of those moments and the people involved could be teachers and mentors to what we are called to do? Finding a mentor is hard, when  you think of it as some official relationship that is face-to-face. But there’s actually mentors all around us. The books we read. The classes we take. The podcasts we listen to. You can be an apprentice to them all

3. Painful Practice

This is where the rubber meets the road. Where the work is really required. Goins tells the story of failed American Idol contestants – some that got tossed into the embarrassment pile, and others, like Colbie Caillat, who were rejected by the judges but later went on to win a Grammy. The difference being that Colbie took the rejection, not in pride, but as a chance to work harder and push herself beyond what she thought was capable. Goins writes:

Unwilling to try new things, we settle for good when called to greatness. Why do we do this? Because it’s easy. To push ourselves past what others expect, beyond what is normal, is difficult and sometimes awkward. But it is a necessary part of the process.

4. Building Bridges with a Series of Intentional Decisions

Jeff expounds on the “You ‘just know’ Illusion” and makes it ok to embrace the mystery. This is the whole reason why I started this blog you’re reading. I love building websites and doing creative things so I decided to start writing about it. I don’t know what will come of it but I’m learning a heck of a lot, and feel like I have much more clarity about myself than when I started.

5. Pivot Points and Learning from Failure

Sometimes we think that challenges and failure are a disruption to what we feel called to do. But it’s often failure that can lead us to success, not prevent us from it. If you want to find what your purpose is, you have to be ok with failure, there’s no way around that. It’s what corrects our course when it’s heading in a wrong direction.

6. Becoming a Master: The Portfolio Life

This chapter was like a confirmation of my very identity. Our purpose is not just one thing, but can be a number of things. What you do is not just your job but it is made up of multiple things. You could be a father, a husband, a pianist and also a writer. They are all connected, a portfolio of your life. My wife often jokes with me that I have too many hobbies (she’s probably right). But the truth is, I enjoy doing a lot of different things. The challenge is to understand what are truly just hobbies – like my love of flatland BMX, or “tricksy biking” as my wife calls it – and what may be something more tied to my purpose – like blogging or photography. We can master a few things that are core to who we are, simply enjoy the fun things and thus lead a fulfilled life.

This Post is Way too Long

So there you have it. Kind of a quick and dirty run-down but I hope it has inspired you. I highly recommend this book. To everyone. It will help you better define why you do what you do, where you want to go in life, and some of things about your calling that you really knew all along but needed some guidance to bring to the surface.

You can check it out on Amazon here (affiliate link): The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do.

 

Setting goals begins with this one question

One Question That Can Dramatically Impact Your Future

Every once in a while, life presents you with a defining moment. Some may even call it an epiphany. But if you’re not aware enough to identify it as such, you could miss a major growth opportunity.

I wrote in an earlier blog of one of those moments, when I realized I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I’d like to share another one I experienced on the road to discovering what I was meant to do. This one is related to the other, and it involves my wife.

Making Room to Dream

It was the end of March and the weather was finally warming up. Atlanta in the spring is truly one of the most beautiful places to be, and my wife and I love taking advantage of the outdoor opportunities the warm weather affords.

This year it also happened to be a really busy season for us and we were feeling (especially my adventurous wife) a strong desire for something different. We wanted to get away, if only for a night, and be near the water. So I got on AirBnb and started looking around at some options. After some searching, I manged to find the perfect place for our getaway: a docked sailboat on Lake Lanier.

How cool is that?

We had such an amazing time. We got burgers to-go at a nearby tavern and ate them on a secluded beach while watching the sunset. Then we just sat on the back of the boat, drinking wine and listening to music. Many boats around us had string lights on as their occupants did the same. We were having a great time reconnecting, away from all the distractions.

Then my wife asked me this question:

What do you want?

See, my wife has this God-given ability to cut through pleasantries and go deep in conversation, creating a vulnerability that fosters connection. And there she went again. And it truly took me by surprise and I was having trouble answering at first.

But this one question forced me stop and focus on something I had not asked myself in a long time. What do I want? Why can’t I clearly articulate it? I needed to change that.

At the time, I said there were a number of things I wanted. A family, the freedom to spend time with them and to serve God with my talents. But In the months since it was first posed, I just keep coming back to this question and what it’s teaching me:

1. You need time to focus on what’s important

Life was crazy when we did our sailboat getaway. We recognized the signs that we needed some quiet time, out in nature. And often when you’re faced with the beauty, peace and scale of things like oceans, lakes, mountains and stars, you’re naturally left pondering your place in the world

2. You need to ask good questions

I know I’m often guilty of letting moments go by – both with the relationships around me as well as myself – without being intentional. In the same way that it is hard to really know someone without taking the time to really talk to them, you can’t fully understand what you want in life without a little self-talk. Get alone, ask questions and listen. If that’s difficult for you, set aside some time with a trusted friend to help begin the process.

3. Knowing what you want helps you define why you do what you do

This is a big one. Setting goals naturally acknowledges a direction you’re headed. It also creates accountability for your life. If your goal is to open your own bakery, you’ll be spending many hours practicing your craft, researching locations and learning from others. The goal dictates what you focus on. Without a clear vision of what you want, your time becomes free to roam where it wants, leaving very little leftover for the things that may bring you closer to the life you desire.

This all takes practice and it will develop over time, as it has been for me. But it’s so worth it. So take some time, either alone or with a friend or your spouse, and ask the question, ” What do I want?”

Please let me know what you discover by leaving a comment!

Setting goals begins with this one question

The One Simple Thing You Can Do To Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

We live in a world where comparison comes easily. Because of social media, we have windows into the lives of just about anyone.  If you’re not careful, one scroll through Facebook and Instagram can leave you feeling like your life is pretty much the most boring of them all.

Beaches you’re not relaxing at, delicious meals you’re not eating, things you do not own and art you’re not creating. Each post becomes another nail in the coffin of monotony that is your life. Am I the only one who feels this way?

If you’re an artist, like me, you tend to follow many other artists on these social networks. It really is a great way to find inspiration and grow ideas for you’re own work. And if you’re also like me, you can so easily fall into that trap of thinking you’ll never be that good, talented or known.

So why even try?

I have those days where I don’t even want to try to do anything creative or meaningful with my life. It seems like the world is doing just fine without my little contributions already. Better just sit on Facebook and watch funny videos. That’s far more entertaining than trying, anyway.

But you know what I’m learning that changes everything?

Wait for it.

Wait for IT.

The only person responsible for where I’m at and where I’m going is me.

If I want to see positive change in my art, my marriage, my life – it’s up to me. Thinking this way helps me change my perspective. It helps me choose what thoughts and activities will get my attention. Because I am the one responsible for my own story. Instead of thinking about how far behind I am compared to others, I think about the work I am doing, the progress I have made and will make. And I choose to be thankful for it all.

And that brings me to the greatest weapon for fighting comparison.

Beating Comparison with Gratitude

It’s hard to feel jealous or sorry for yourself when giving thanks for what you have and where you’re at. Gratitude can take all that negativity and flip it on its head. Instead of thinking I’m a crappy photographer, I can be thankful I have the resources to become a better one. Instead Of being jealous of that beautiful new car I don’t own, I can be thankful I have zero payments on mine and it works perfectly.

And when I see people doing amazing things when I’m not, I can be thankful for the amazing experiences I have had in life and choose be inspired to fill my life with more of them.

And this feels so good. Because when you take responsibility for what your life looks like, you create ownership of your story. You are no longer a victim, but the hero. No one wants to read a story about someone who never overcame anything but just blamed everyone for their problems. We love movies where the hero wants something and overcomes the odds to achieve it.

So when comparison creeps in to tell you how bad you have it, think of just one thing you’re thankful for, and get back to work being the hero you know you are. It’s your choice.

When you feel like what you’re doing doesn’t match up to others, what’s one thing you can be thankful for? Let me know in the comments.

The One Simple Thing You Can Do To Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

 

Finding what you're meant to do involves listening to your life.

How To Find Your Calling: Listen to Your Life

Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am. – Parker J Palmer

I know that there is a purpose for my life and I’m determined to find it. If I can embrace mystery, and be ok with the not-knowing, I can discover my life’s work.

Two months ago, I didn’t have a clue where to start. For years my own fears of failure and unknowns led down a path of inaction. But still, the stirring inside remained. There has to be more.

Thank God for the internet. While scrolling through my Instagram-feed, feeling sorry for my lack of self purpose, a book cover caught my attention. The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do, by Jeff Goins.

I had never heard of Jeff Goins, but that title intrigued me SO much. I went to his site and clicked around and found he was giving away the book for the cost of shipping. Whoa… an author AND a marketer. I like that. And so I bought the book.

And it’s been opening up a world inside of me. Taking something so lofty, like finding your calling, and bringing it down to where I was at. The ideas were simple, yet so empowering. He does this through multiple stories of ordinary people, like me, who have discovered what they were meant to do.

One thing that has been a major milestone for me, is what Goins describes as “awareness”. It’s the first stage of discovering your vocation, or calling. If we can take the time to look back on our lives, we can realize that we already have a sense of what are called to. Our lives have been speaking, but it’s up to us to listen.

I spent about a week thinking about that. As I went through my day to day, I began to take notice of the things that I loved, the work I love to do, and not just recently, but all the way back to my childhood. It still felt so ambiguous and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I enjoy so many things, like design and photography, that I felt overwhelmed at knowing which step was the first step.

Then the clarity came

I was driving home from work one day, listening to a podcast from Dale Partridge, an entrepreneur and founder of Sevenly. I can’t remember who he was interviewing. It doesn’t really matter. But I remember being so inspired by hearing the host talk to entrepreneurs and the creative businesses they’ve started. With 15 minutes left in my drive and no more podcast to distract me, I began to pray, and a thought entered my head:

I am an entrepreneur.

My eyes welled up with tears, as is typical when my heart agrees with somethings God is trying to tell me. I said it out loud, “I’m an entrepreneur”. And it just felt right. Just saying the words, agreeing that part of me, instantly laid a foundation for the future to come.

And as I looked back on my life with this new lens I began to agree more with it. I was always the kid knocking on doors to rake peoples’ leaves or shovel their snow. I remember the feeling when I made $80 one snowy day when I was 10. In middle school, I learned to string lacrosse sticks, and I soon hung up flyers in the locker rooms advertising my service, charging less than the local store to do it. I’m proud to say I’ve been a member of eBay since 1998, buying and selling things since high school. In college, I did a project where I created caricatures of the members of the band I was in. I thought they looked cool and that others may want their own, so I made a website where people could order theirs, called DrawPhoto.

My life was strewn with these moments. I’d often find something I enjoyed doing on my own, then figure out a way to make money from it. It was just natural. Inside of me.

My Grandparents

One other thing I was reminded of was my grandparents. For most of my life I did not really recognize that they too were entrepreneurs, but looking back now, I can see how much they impacted me. They were antique dealers, with a basement full of treasures that would some day be sold. I loved looking at the random things they’ve found and I can still picture exactly what their basement looked like, homemade shelves of Rubbermaid bins lining all the walls. I would watch them buy lamps at garage sales for $800 and then they’d take me on trips into New York City as they auctioned them for $5000. Who knew those things were Victorian?!

I would help them with antique shows at the West Side Piers and I loved walking around and seeing the booths of the rare things people had for sale. I always loved the old advertisements and campy things like ray guns from the 50’s. It was an amazing world to me. And as I look back I can now see that the entrepreneurial spirit within me was being awakened and confirmed. It was all kind of making sense to me now.

And that scares the crap out of me

So I’m an entrepreneur now? What does that even mean? What’s my business? What will I do and how do I start?

I have more questions than answers, and that scares me so much. But at the same time, I feel a foundation has been laid, and my direction is just a little more clear. And I understand that without recognizing what my life had been telling me, I would be that much more lost. Things are now making more sense as I look through this lens. I feel one step closer.

I’m an entrepreneur.

What do you think your life is telling you? Take some time to reflect on it and let me know in the comments below.