Have you ever given thought to how people have influenced your life? How have your family, friends, peers, and coworkers contributed in shaping you into the person that you are today? In this post I’m going to zero in on the importance of mentorship.
My First Mentors
My first mentors were my parents. I was lucky growing up, I had two parents that cared about me. Sure, we had good times and bad, and every family has issues that they deal with, but having the comfort and security of two caring parents provided me with a real advantage out of the gates.
Through my parent’s guidance I was ahead of the curve as I started my scholastic life. I excelled early in the basics: reading, writing, and math.
I played a lot of league sports. My dad coached or helped coach a lot of the teams that I was on, and I excelled in athleticism and in my ability to communicate and function as part of a group or team.
It’s hard to measure how important these early years are to my life, but if I had to guess, I’d say that they were incredibly important.
Lacking Good Mentors
As my formative years of learning crept by and high school enveloped my life, I began to drift away from sports and the structured foundations that had guided me so far. My interests evolved and expanded to a number of things. I learned to play guitar and developed a desire to be a musician. I got a job and expanded my circle of friends.
The kind of music that I enjoyed was rock music and grunge…hey it was the 90s. Pearl Jam and Nirvana were on the radio, and bands like Alice in Chains, and Guns N’ Roses were my favorite.
I grew my hair long to fit the role, and due to my maturity, I was able to develop friendships with older people and find my way into night clubs and parties that were above my age level.
I was experimenting with drugs and alcohol, and needless to say, the people who I was hanging around with were not leading me into a healthy lifestyle, or one where I felt I was reaching my true potential.
It’s Not Too Late to Change Course…Hopefully
I don’t know how I managed to make it through those years without getting into serious trouble. Deep down I feel that I was always somewhat attuned to an intuition and knew where to draw the line. Somehow I managed to always talk my way out of trouble or avoid it completely. Some of the time, I guess that I was flat-out lucky.
Not all of my friends were that lucky.
- Several of my friends died in tragic accidents that involved drinking and driving.
- A couple of my friends took their own lives.
- A couple of my friends have died of drug overdoses.
I made a fateful decision, a decision that in hindsight, is one of the best decisions that I have ever made. I decided to walk away from everything that I knew, and to go and live and finish college in another state half way across the country. I felt like I was able to push “reset” on my life.
Recognize that not all mentors are good for you!
Finding Your Way
It’s not easy to separate yourself from the people who you have grown up with. It wasn’t for me. Hopefully, you can sense when someone is not being a positive influence on your life, and make the best decisions for you.
Granted I’ve had a lot of ups and downs since that fateful day that I moved away from where I grew up, but I am so happy with where I am today. It’s an amazing feeling to know that you are where you are supposed to be in life. Those of you who feel like you’re walking the path that you’re supposed to be on know what I’m talking about, and those of you who don’t feel like you’re walking the path that you’re supposed to be on are acutely aware that some changes need to happen.
Everyone’s path is unique, for we are all unique. Given that uniqueness, there is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach to finding your way. My suggestion is to force yourself to act courageously, as opposed to reacting from fear. It’s not always easy to start a new path, but being complacent is no way to cure unhappiness.
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein
As you pursue your hobbies, talents, and passions, you’re sure to meet others who are trying to do, or have done what you want to do. Seek these people out and learn from them. The experience of those who have gone before you is invaluable.
Some Mentors Appear to You
Sometimes people have a way of showing up in your life just when you need them. Recognize these positive influencers, befriend them, and learn from them.
For me, yoga has become the central force in my life that seems to be guiding me to my fullest potential, and dare I say – greatest happiness. What started out as a way of stretching once a week to help my body after intense physical exercise, has become the empowering force behind my courage and conviction to push myself outside of my comfort zones to grow professionally, and as a person.
About five years ago I met a yoga teacher named Alison Alstrom at a Christmas party. At that time, my practice consisted of following along to DVDs, and dropping into an occasional class at random studios. I started going to Alison’s three-hour Sunday Practice and saw my personal yoga practice grow by leaps and bounds.
A couple of years ago I met Jill Knouse who taught the anatomy section of my yoga teacher training at CorePower yoga. Coming from a personal trainer background, I had a solid understanding of anatomy and we bonded and became friends. Later, Jill would develop a program called Elevate Yoga Trainings. This program is all about helping yoga teachers develop their skill sets, and take their teaching to the next level. It was during the first offering of this program that I made the decision to open my training studio.
Some Mentors You Have to Seek Out
As I progress down my path, I see my former mentors transitioning into my peers, and it’s time to seek out new mentors. Since everything positive, energizing, and fantastic seems to be emanating from my yoga practice, I have chosen to further myself down this path and seek out a new mentor that will enable me to grow to the next level.
Next week I will begin a 500 Hour Yoga Teacher Training with Noah Mazé. Noah is a world-renowned yoga teacher who I became aware of and had the opportunity of meeting through my friend Alison Alstrom.
Thus, everything comes full circle. People that I have met, admired, and soaked in their influence have led me to professional success and personal fulfillment. I now find myself taking on the role of mentor, and find that spreading my knowledge about the things I have learned deepens my understanding of my interests and passions.
The knowledge and skills that I have gained from my mentors have led me to an amazing point in life. I would not be where I am, nor would I go where I intend to, if it had not been for people who entered my life, and the people who I have sought out in mentorship.
Who are the mentors in your life, and how have they influenced you? How did you find them? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!