How Having a Mentor Helped Me
One of my greatest life lessons was and is the importance of having mentors or role models that can influence your life in positive ways. We were all born into this world with a blank slate. Some of us were blessed by innate gifts handed down to us by our genetic pool, others found their gifts through their journey in life. Whichever way our gifts were sourced, often times our skills, talents, and passions remain dormant until we recognize and nurture them.
When I entered into the military, role models I wanted to emulate were so far and extremely few. But the best advice I ever got as a young second lieutenant (aka baby officer) was to analyze the characteristics of my superiors. Take the positive characteristics from your leader--incorporate that. Note the negative characteristics from your leader--avoid that. I did just that and found my own leadership style curated by the good I found in all my superiors + the acknowledgement of the filtered bad. By no means am I saying I was the perfect officer, but I felt good about it and most importantly, respected.
As an Entrepreneur and Wedding Photographer, I've learned that this self-cultivation strategy is no different. I jumped in to a lively, thriving, and thrashing sea of successful men and women in my field. For years now, I've been intently watching, reading, listening, following, and learning from a number of successful entrepreneurs. We have never met. Heck, they don't even know I exist. But when I look back on how far I've come, I attribute a lot of my successes to them. I found my own Entrepreneurship + Photography style curated by the good I found in these role models and the filtered bad. Not only did they encourage me to follow my dreams but their successes + failures guided me.
The reason I share these thoughts with you is because I honestly just don't think I'd be here without having those mentors to guide me. Indirectly, they helped me recognize that 1) I have a gift 2) I need to use it 3) Friggin' use it 4) How to use it. To end this with bottom line points, here is what having mentors and role models did for me:
- Left me clues: I learned to apply formula's to my life, allowing me to create & cultivate my own style, artistry, and business
- Saved me time: Paths towards success are never perfect. For anyone. By watching my role models, I was able to save myself some time by avoiding the more common challenges and obstacles, and focusing on areas that helped me deliver.
- Fosters humility: Watching another master their craft helps me recognize my knowledge gaps and encourages me to fill them with...well...knowledge. I realize there is so much to learn and by inducing humility, I become a better learner.
- Encouragement to grow: It's so easy to give up, but looking up to someone that had as many failures as they did successes shows it's all possible. They encourage growth by motivating us to push our boundaries and moving beyond our comfort zones. They remind you to move forward, work hard, & never give up.