The Independent Thinker’s Guide to Mentoring Yourself

I realized years ago that I am not wired to find or take shortcuts in business or in life. I’m not gifted with a super-human ability to see the path forward (for myself, at least). Over time, I’ve discovered that I am wired to make a consistent series of mistakes. I am wired to step into the muck and wade through the mess. I am wired to walk through periods of enormous confusion in order to emerge from the other side with clarity.

Why don’t I get some help? Why don’t I find a “mentor” who can show me how to “get there” more quickly? Actually, I get plenty of help from others. I study what they do, I pay attention to what they say, and I follow along as a silent observer. In fact, I spend many of my days learning and thinking like this.

But somewhere along the way, I stopped depending on others for my answers. Why? Because their answers are not my answers. And I’m really only interested in my answers.

Understand That NO ONE Has the Answers For You

It took me far longer than I am willing to admit to accept full responsibility for finding my answers myself. It’s not because I’m smart that I came to this conclusion. I just got tired and frustrated of searching! I spent a very long time trying to find answers by asking other people. Business experts… spiritual experts… I looked everywhere. A lot of the places I searched did offer some great answers. But they weren’t really for me. Eventually, I just gave up.

Ancient wisdom tells you the “answers are within.” But ancient wisdom doesn’t give you a whole lot of pointers about how exactly to find those answers. Sure, you can sit on a rock and meditate for a few years and hope some inspiration hits. But I’m impatient. I wanted my answers yesterday!

The problem was that I was a well-trained sheep. I was a “Straight A” student. That means I was very good at telling people exactly what they wanted to hear. In school, this brings you accolades. In life and business, however, it often leads to being lost for a very long time.

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I was so well trained to look outside of myself for everything, that I spent a very long time executing that program. What business should I be in? How should I grow it? How should I act with clients? Who should I listen to? What do I have to do to get you to like me?

I searched out “mentors” not because it was a smart thing to do. I searched them out because it kept me from having to do the work to become my own mentor.

How to Discover YOUR Answers

From my perspective, answers are not something you find, they are something youdiscover. How do you discover your answers? I’ve only ever identified one surefire strategy to do it:

Find a way to serve others on a consistent basis.

From that action will come the answers you seek. In fact, from that action will come just about everything you’ve ever wanted. If you do this correctly in a business setting, material rewards will tend to show up. If you do this in a personal setting, you will receive a stream of abundance greater than any material asset you can imagine.

This approach works in business and this works in life. I know because this is what I live. But I’ll admit, it’s totally counter-intuitive and not something I could have thought my way to. Instead, as usual, I made a “mistake” along the way and stumbled into it.

As I have come to discover: “The answers are in the doing.”

The reason I’m not wired to take the shortcuts through life and business isn’t because I’m broken. The reason is because I’m here to share with others what I learn on my journey. This is what I do. I set out into the great unknown, collect a ton of experiences, and then turn around and share those in a way that is structured enough to add value to others.

I didn’t realize this was “one of my answers” until I started serving others in my business. I serve them first, without requiring anything in return, day after day. I do this through a daily email newsletter I’ve been writing for almost five years. I started helping others and the clarity came from that.

It’s not that I have “the answers” for the people I help, of course. Hopefully, that’s clear. But I do have some well-lit and well-worn paths I’ve traveled. And I share what I’ve learned with others so they can discover their own answers.

In the past few years, I’ve developed an enormous amount of gratitude for this.

As it turns out, the most effective way to become your own mentor isn’t to focus on yourself at all. The secret is to invest your time and resources in the service of others.