Tag Archives: self improvement

On Choosing Mentors – 3 Things to Look at

How often have you asked your dance teacher about the mechanics of astrophysics? Have you ever gone to a basketball coach to ask them about tennis? My guess? Rarely, if ever.

Then, when it comes to your career, the one thing you’ll be doing for over 40 years of your life, why do you go to the most convenient sample?

Often, especially when you are starting out, you go to your parents and teachers. While that’s an excellent support system, they are not always the apt system that you’re looking for professionally. Mentors play a massive role in shaping your future. They don’t control it. But they can make your career path easier, better, and sometimes, faster. 

There is a notion that a mentor chooses you. Sometimes. Maybe. But for the most part, you choose your mentor. You make yourself available and active in circles where you’ll find your mentors. If you sit at home all day, your parents automatically become your mentors. If you go to networking nights designed for tech startups, that’s where you’ll find mentors for the Tech fields. If you go to networking nights for artists and singers, that’s where you’ll find mentors in those fields. So, finding mentors is a two-way street where you actively seek them out and they reciprocate your initiative by mentoring you. 

While finding mentors is an essential aspect of any field, looking at the current trends in bias against women in workplaces, the right mentors become even more important for women. Vittoria Adhami, a  Professional Life Coach, also corroborates that these biases against women are ingrained in society and can hurt women’s chances of success.

All this discussion points to a very important statement- we need to choose our mentors wisely. We need to choose people who believe in our capability, have been in our field long enough to guide us and have the ability to adapt.

People who believe in your capability

While it’s all good to surround yourself with ambitious go-getters, not everyone is a type A personality. People learn and act on their own pace. Finding people who are ambitious but differently ambitious from you may actually hurt you more than help you. They won’t be able to see your work the way you do and so they can’t guide you as well as someone who knows how you work.  Your mentor must see your capability and your potential. Choose a mentor who sees the future you as opposed to the present you. Don’t find someone who flatters you. Definitely not, but find someone who gets you and is willing to guide you.

Have been in your field long enough

20-year-old CEO’s sound like a great idea. They are inspiring and envy-inducing. But do they make good mentors? Let’s see. To become a CEO today, in the start-up culture specifically, is honestly, quite easy. Anyone can become the CEO. It’s not surprising then, that 90% of all start-ups fail. Experience counts for a whole lot in life. Mentors who’ve ‘been there, done that and survived it’ are the ones who will help you tide through the tough times. From bad business deals to a shifting topography to hostile company take overs, an experienced mentor can help you through it all.

Ability to Adapt

While society’s attitudes take a while to change, their behavior can easily change. The market works on behavior. The global market is a dynamic caricature of society. It shifts and molds itself according to the way the world is changing. The Internet changed everything. Tomorrow, something else might. Find a mentor who is changing with the times. A mentor who has continued to grow in her/his field and personal life. After a certain point in someone’s life, our professional and personal lives tend to mesh. A mentor who has grown personally will take those learning to her/his professional life and will be able to learn some new, some useful and some futile tactics. She/he will be able to guide you through those learning as well.

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How To Learn From Your Mistakes

Life is full of errors. On a daily basis, we do something wrong. Left the milk to boil too long, sent in the wrong emoji, didn’t have your meds. But these are small things that don’t hurt anyone (much). Every once in awhile, we make mistakes that can hurt us or others. These mistakes then, begin to matter. We become conscious of the consequences.

Till here the process is pretty sorted.  Make mistake -> See bad consequence -> Don’t want to feel bad again.

Yet, more often than not, some mistakes we continue to make. Why? Why is it that when we decided to not be angry again, do we suddenly burst out with anger? Why is it that when the situation is tense, our resolutions fall through? It’s often because we don’t know how to learn from our mistakes. In the process listed above, we have a problem, we have a consequence. We don’t have a solution. And that makes sense. Solutions are hard work. They require mental and physical effort.

If there was a solution though the process would look a lot like

Make Mistake -> See bad consequence -> Solution -> Don’t feel bad again.

The solution, though not a one glove fits all, but a medium size that almost fits all.  Learning a from a mistake requires you to deconstruct it, see different triggers and components and then practice the solution. So the complete process looks a lot like this.

Make Mistake -> See bad consequence -> Introspect and break down mistake -> Practice Solution -> Don’t feel bad again

Learning from your mistakes is an active process of control and repetition. Control your natural urges, practice your preferred response.

How To Be Mindful

When the mind is free, we are calm and happy. There is clarity of thought and action. There is an ability to focus on the present and be aware of its consequences. However, there are a lot of things that prevent us from being mindful. The constant stream of information that is thrown at us from the environment seems to force us to keep up with it. The buzzing of the phone, the honking cars, the roaring engines, the laughing children, the blowing leaves all seem to be distracting elements that prevent us from being mindful. However, in reality, not only is it possible to be mindful but it is also becoming extremely important to be mindful. Being mindful not only helps you attain a better sense of self  but it also allows you to be happier. So, how does one stop being so invested in the world and more invested in themselves? Actually, it is pretty easy – you just pause for 3 minutes.

Just for three minutes every day, put away your earphones, your phones, your e-books, your worries and just focus on the world around you. See the ways the trees are formed, the way the leaves fall. The people passing you by in a hurry, the laughter of friend in groups. Notice the way the world is changing and in doing so introspect on how you are changing with the world. These three minutes every day would be as long as walking to your nearest coffee shop but its impact will last forever. On weekends, sit in your favorite park or at home and close your eyes for three minutes and focus on your breathing. Just the way you breathe. Forget about the food to be made, the work to be finished, the friend you have to call- all that can happen three minutes later. But for now, just focus on yourself, your body and your mind.

Taking three minutes out of your day to disconnect from the superficial and reconnect with reality will enable you to see life as it is progressing and changing before your eyes. It will calm your mind and ward off your worries. It will help you put things in perspective, it’ll help you be more aware of yourself and your surroundings. Most importantly, being mindful will help you become more of who you want to be and a little less of who you don’t.

I’ll see you again next Wednesday. Till then, let’s connect on Twitter and Facebook?