The Hard Truth About Growth and Mentorship

 Photo by Happylandic CO. | @thehannakate

Photo by Happylandic CO. | @thehannakate

Five years ago, my life got turned upside down. I was living in Tokyo and my marriage was ending. I had been a stay at home mom with our daughter. Besides having some teaching jobs on the side, I had no regular source of income. I had no idea what I was going to do next!

I landed in a new city a little less than a year later. I signed a 12-month lease on an apartment in Denver without a job and without knowing how competitive and expensive Denver is to live in. Many people wouldn’t have survived, but I did. At one point I had three jobs to pay our bills and one of those jobs included janitorial work to clean toilets. When it comes right down to it, most of us will be willing to do anything to survive and I was no exception.

Do you know what else I got, besides work? I got not just one, but three different mentors.

Wait. Mentorship?

Maybe you’ve been feeling like you don’t have time for mentorship, or can’t find people with time to mentor you, or don’t have money to invest in it. These reasons not to find and invest in mentorship are really just excuses. Maybe you’ve been hitting walls and going around in circles because you simply haven’t experienced the power of good mentorship.

Do you really want to grow? Then put yourself out there. Get creative to find mentorship. Be intentional. Be willing to be taught. Soon you’ll be graduating to a whole new level of growth and before you know it, someone will be asking you, “Hey, would you tell me your secret to success?”

Why does it matter? Why did I get a mentor? How did I find the right one for me?

For every highly successful person that I’ve studied, mentorship has been a key factor in their success. Success requires personal growth. Mentorship gives you the tools you need to do the work to grow in every area of your life to reach that success, both personally and professionally.

Not everyone wants to do the work to grow.

Mentorship has been a key tool to bring me from the point of working 3 minimum paying jobs as a broke, single mom to building a multi-six-figure business with my cousin. I still have mentors that I learn from or meet with on a semi-regular basis. Finding good mentors isn’t an easy process, but it’s also not as hard as you think.

Cut through the crap to find the gold

You do have to cut through the crap and clutter to find the right mentors for you. You have to seek them out. There are some ways that I do this, but it's mostly intuitive. When I’m really drawn to someone, I know that there’s something I need to learn from them.

While I have had a couple mentors that I meet with in person, the rest of my mentors are people from books, podcasts, etc. The reason I consider these other people my mentors is because I follow them closely to learn from them and apply what they teach to my own life. I'm very intentional about this for whatever season I'm in — to learn all that I can from them before moving on to the next mentor to learn from.

In order to cut through the crap to find the mentors that are straight up GOLD, look for the ones who live out what they teach. It’s harder to do this when you’re finding mentors online, but here are some clues:

  • Look for the mentors who use their own failures to teach life things that they have learned the hard way.

  • Look for the mentors who clearly have their own voice, not a constant regurgitation of what they are copying from others.

  • Look for mentors who listen to others and take feedback, while also having confidence in their own work.

Get creative

Get creative to find mentorship. When you’re looking for mentors, you’ll find them everywhere. One of your next mentors might be your elderly neighbor that has been through a lot in her lifetime. Your next parenting mentor may be a teacher who’s on her summer break and has great insight on how to communicate more effectively or how to be more organized. The next time you meet someone that you admire, interact with them. Invite them out for coffee. Ask them questions. Listen to their stories. Find mentors online. Invest in your growth and pay for a 1-hour consultation.

Use your time creatively, too. When you’re using your time in the school pickup line to listen to a podcast or making it a priority to read a book every morning for 30 minutes, you’re going to be influenced by what you’re paying attention to.

Paying for mentorship

Investing in myself by paying for mentorship has been extremely valuable. 4 years ago, I used 3,500 precious dollars from my savings and flew to North Carolina for a 5-day art workshop. I literally sat at the feet of a woman who had been on the cover of People magazine and consistently made multiple 6-figures each year from her art sales.

She taught us how we could use our creative skill sets as a bridge from what we were each currently doing to expand into entrepreneurship over time. She helped each of us to create a business plan and a strategy that could be profitable in the real world. Through that week, I grew leaps and bounds in my confidence and knowledge. Later, it would be up to me to put everything I learned into practice when I got home.

To this day, I’m still utilizing what I learned that week and I have yet to even begin to maximize on the potential of the tools I that was given. I still don’t sell art as a full-time business, but I have the focus and drive to build bridges to my dream. The things I learned that week have been invaluable to build other brands.

Last year, my business partner and I had several consultations with Shauna. Two of the business strategies that we developed with her helped us grow our email lists and sales by more than 400%!

Is paying for mentorship worth it? With the right mentor, you bet it is.

It takes a tribe

It’s important to learn from more than one mentor at a time. Aim to have 2-4 different mentors at a time, one for specific different areas of your life — finances, relationships, parenting, business, etc.

One mentor will rarely meet the needs of all the areas that you need mentorship in. A finance mentor may not be a good relationship or parenting mentor, for example. It’s helpful to create a vision board or a graph for this. Draw out the areas you want to grow in and find mentors that you can learn from in those areas.

It takes discipline

You’re not going to like this.

Getting mentorship won’t benefit you a single thing if you don’t have discipline.

If you don’t already discipline yourself, are you even ready to learn what someone else can teach you? You don’t have to wait until you have a mentor to start being more disciplined.

Not a single thing in my life would have changed if I hadn’t learned to be disciplined. 5 years ago I didn’t like who I was or where I was in my life, so I decided to make some drastic changes. No one told me I needed to do this, but I knew that I needed a change. I’d always been a night owl, but I decided to start getting up at 5:00 a.m. every morning.

I committed to this change. I didn’t allow myself to make any excuses.

When you really commit to a change, you won’t allow yourself room to question it in the moment. I would stumble out of my bed to turn off my alarm which I put in my kitchen and I would refuse to let myself go back to bed. At first, it was silly because I’d hit snooze, lay down on the kitchen floor and go back to sleep. However, within a couple of weeks, I was starting to stay up and get ready for my day as soon as that alarm went off.

People who lack discipline waste their lives becoming less than they were created to be.
— Phil Cohen

Through trial and error, I discovered a morning routine that worked for me. This single discipline created a domino effect with other positive disciplines that I began to add to my life. I was beginning to develop my senses to see and make little changes that would make a big difference for my long-term self.

You can love discipline or live stupid.

It takes correction

Most of us don’t have an issue with receiving constructive correction when it’s delivered in a complimentary sandwich, tactfully squeezed between affirmations of all the things we’ve done right.

The truth is, most times correction doesn’t come to us in that way.

Correction usually feels more like sandpaper on sensitive skin. In fact, the mentors that annoy you the most and the people that are the most annoyed by you are often your best teachers. They detect the behaviors and habits in you that could become better, or they exemplify behaviors that you need to learn from.

Correction hurts when it’s ugly. I’ll be the first one to say that I absolutely hate being corrected in a way that makes me feel small. I hate it with a passion. It frustrates me and depresses me all at once. It always triggers a good cry, after I’ve retorted with sharp, snide remarks.

The moment I get corrected in a way that feels ugly, I flinch and defend myself. I pick apart the character of the individual that I’ve been corrected by until I conclude that they have no right to correct me. When someone corrects me by putting me down or shaming me, it really hurts. I want to throw their correction out of the window and never look back.

I’m not justifying a mentor or boss who corrects you through shutting you down or shaming you, however, you’re going to miss finding all the gold that can make you a better person if you toss all of their correction without a second look. You shouldn’t accept an ounce of shaming that comes with an ugly correction (in fact, you should definitely find a different mentor) but you should sift through the correction until you find the truth in it that will make you better.

Correction is a vital part of growing in mentorship. Embrace correction as a gift and let it make you better.

CONCLUSION

I’ve overcome so many odds. I don’t work 3 different jobs anymore. I don’t have credit card debt anymore and I own the title of the car I drive. The only toilet I clean belongs to the house I just bought in Nashville.

I’m not the same person that I was 5 years ago, and growth is the key. Growing hurts. Growing is messy. The work it takes to grow is always going to be up to me. And I never want to stop growing.

Growing requires mentors.You cannot graduate to another level unless you change your teachers and atmosphere from time to time. Think about it. A 5th grader can’t graduate from 5th grade by himself and he won’t grow out of the mindset that was in during the 5th grade unless his atmosphere changes to level up to 6th grade and beyond. (An example borrowed from my mentor, Garrain Jones.)

My mentors have taught me that 80% of the outcome of my life is up to me and then they’ve handed me tools to shape it. I’ve learned how to respond better to the 20% of my life that feels completely out of my control. I’m owning the fact that my personal happiness is my own responsibility. I’m learning to own 100% of my life.

I still work hard every single day. I’m still a single mom. I’m still willing to do anything that it takes to make a good life for the two of us. There’s still so much I have yet to learn. I still ask my mentors for advice, because mentorship empowers me to make better choices for my life.

All I get is this one lifetime to be everything that I can be, so that’s why mentorship has become a lifelong commitment.