Friday, April 10, 2009

In Search of a Mentor

This is a little weird because I'm asking for advice in this posting and MOST of you who read my blog don't respond on my email me about my posts. Which is totally fine. It just feels funny when I post questions and it looks like I have one reader. (Thanks, R!)

So I guess I'm feeding my ego here by pointing out that I know that any advice I get will probably be via email...I want the occassional casual reader to know that I'm not just some loser blogging into space. Although, one could argue that only a loser would point out she's not a loser. Oh - also I'm posting this on my lunch break, not during work. I'm pointing that out so you don't think I'm some loser who's neglecting her job. (I really need to work on not worrying about what people think of me. One of the Four Agreements is to not take things personally. But OBVIOUSLY I still don't have that one covered.)

Here's my question (you knew I'd get to it eventually, right?):
Have any of you ever purposely set out to find a mentor? If so - how did you do it? I really believe I need to do this but right now it feels a bit overwhelming. It's a big task and an important one. And...I really am not sure how to start.

Well - that's not true. I started once before. About a year and a half ago, I reached out to a woman who was the former Executive Director of the local food bank and told her I really would appreciate any advice she could give me about how to position myself so that someday I could become an ED of a non-profit. She seemed surprised but receptive - but because of one thing and another (including me starting this job a year ago) we never made it to lunch. I reach out again to her? I'm tempted to do so.

I'm actually really glad I'm writing this post because as I write it, new ideas are popping into my head. But this task still seems huge - kind of like the psychological tasks I set for myself which never seem to come to fruition. (i.e. - "I need to stop worrying about what people think of me.")

Here's what I know - at every key aspect of my life, I have had a mentor although I didn't realize it at the time. About 10 years ago (almost to the day now) I became a mom for the first time when my daughter was born. I was on the phone with my mom at least 3 times a day, asking for advice about everything from nursing to baby monitors. She was clearly a mentor for me during that period and eventually I got it. I learned how to be a mom (for better or worse) and now I rarely have to ask her for advice (although I strongly suspect that the teenage years will increase my need for advice).

I've never been very focused on my career and never considered myself an ambitious person. That lack of focus/ambition has pretty much disappeared - so this is a new phase of life for me. I'm reasonably sure that the key thing is for me to just put myself out there and ask for help. Oh, and apparently I need to be slightly annoying also. Which is good because I'm REALLY good at that.

1 comment:

Renee said...

I don't know that I've ever had a mentor, which is probably why I've gone through life like a rudderless ship.

I think going to lunch with the ED of the non-profit is a great idea.

I also think you shouldn't lock yourself into the idea of "a" mentor, as in just one.

I think it's quite possible to find pieces of people that inspire you and help you to reach a goal in a specific area. I think someone can be a wonderful mentor professionally, and someone completely different could be the inspiration you need to stop worrying about what people think.

In other words, I think you are perfect just the way you are!

So my advice, is to definitely reach out to the ED and pick her brain. But also maybe reach out to a friend or someone you know who does go through life living in the moment for themselves, without a care as to what a spectator might think.

You know, it's the sing like no one is listening, dance like no one is watching, love like you've never been hurt mantra.