Your Greatest Mentor Might Be Someone You Never Even Meet

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Mentors.

It’s a word we hear a lot in the freelance/entrepreneur/work space.

Get a mentor, they say.

Like you can just…I don’t know, pick one up off of the shelf somewhere. I used to think that was such an annoying statement. I used to get frustrated that people didn’t quite get that it wasn’t easy to find someone to mentor you.

The other day I was listening to one of my favorite authors/podcasters/speakers, Rachel Hollis, and she said that sometimes your mentors are people you’ve never met.

Cue the angel sounds and light bulbs and all that jazz.

Her words quite literally stopped me in my tracks, because she was right.

In a world where we google everything, it’s possible to learn from those you have yet to meet.

It’s possible to have a whole bunch of mentors, and maybe they don’t even know it.

And yes, I know, this isn’t the mentorship in the truest sense. I get that. But sometimes there is strength and wisdom to be gained in the stories from those who have walked before you — and that’s a modern, different kind of mentorship.

Maybe it’s your favorite author, or your favorite blogger, or your favorite podcaster — whatever works for you.

There’s a plethora of information out there, and you can seek the guidance of those you admire the most via their work, their words, and the good ol’ internet.

Sometimes just listening to their story is enough to make you feel like you’re not alone in your dreams.

I was a substitute teacher in public schools of New York for over five years. And, somewhere along the line, my dream of being a permanent teacher changed. What I wanted was to work in theatre. I wanted to write, and I wanted to direct.

I don’t know when I read or heard that Lin-Manuel Miranda was a substitute teacher before he became a theatre superstar, but I do know that his story resonated with me on a level that I still can’t fully explain. For me, it was a sign. For me, it meant I wasn’t alone. For me, hearing about his substitute teaching adventures meant that there could be more to my story, too. And that’s something I’ve held onto in some of the bleakest moments in my career.

So, listen to me (and my girl Rachel Hollis) and remember that a mentor doesn’t have to come in a typical package.

There is wisdom all around you — just be open to soaking it all in. TC mark

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