In a previous post I alluded to a “Mentor A” which invariably raises the question, “How many letters of the alphabet do my mentors go through?” (Answer: Just up to B for now). Today I want to talk about them a bit and how they influence my journey.
Mentor A is someone who works with me at my day job. He’s got 13 years of experience writing code and keeps me on my toes as we are around the same age and I probably have only one tenth his experience combined when you count my fits and starts along this journey.
He’s a verifiable bad-ass and every day I work with him, I get a glimpse of the mastery that is possible with enough dedication and a deliberate approach to getting projects shipped – be it for money or for a portfolio or practice (all of which still lead to money – “cha-ching!”)
Mentor B is more laid-back but he’s also a bad-ass in his right. Quite a bit younger than I am, he keeps me on my toes regarding my age. Hey, at 29 I am not getting any younger. He’s also the more critical of my work and takes a little more time out to assess what I’ve done. He’ll shower me with praise and then land with 5 things I could have done better.
Last week, when I was slipping with my Clone-A-Week challenge, a conversation with both of them, Mentor A in person and Mentor B via WhatsApp chat, got me back on track almost immediately. Imagine the hours that could have been lost if I had not done anything at all last week.
The point is this – we all need mentors. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing or learning, someone has gone before and can inspire, guide, lead, shepherd – whatever you want to call it. The journey is easier and faster when you have them with you.
And nothing says you have to make it a formal thing. Anyone you have access to for at least 15 minutes each week to share ideas with and who possesses sufficiently advanced knowledge in your area is worth looking at as a mentor. In fact this is one relationship that works even when it’s one sided. And you don’t always need technical advice. Sometimes I find that an anecdote from Mentor A is just what the doctor ordered.
So long as every interaction with them gets you closer to that version of you that’s on the inside, then they’re a mentor. Cherish them, grow the relationship and in time, let them know.
And even if what you’re doing is so new, novel, super-secret or whatever, you can always find an area that is parallel to what you are doing and get yourself a mentor from that area.
With all the tech available to us the barriers to getting quality mentorship are removed. Now you don’t even have to meet them physically, it could be via Skype or other online communication service. It could be a blog of theirs that you follow or a social media account you – stalk – study. They could even be in another country or on another continent. And if you think age is a factor to be considered – well, I won’t even discuss it here because I do not think I can help you.
The wayI see it, it’s an important part of growing and of this waka I’m on. Mentor A and Mentor B, I salute you sirs.