A month ago I ended a fifteen year friendship.
It was not as difficult as I thought it would have been. In a brief four sentence conversation I realized I had outgrown my dear friend. I also realized just how much weight his opinion had carried in my life and I was more than ready to sever that influence and move forward.
“I cannot take advice from you because I do not want to be where you are”, were my exact words. It hit me just how true these words are and I continue to live by them. He promptly in disdain, began to list his accomplishments including his PhD and his lofty management responsibilities at his job.
The very anti-thesis of my life philosophy!
I’m sure that having a mentor is awesome but be aware that you will never go higher than the person whose opinions you value or whom you look to for validation. Your subconscious (that habit dependent part of your brain) will always find a way to keep you looking up to them by keeping you under them.
Give no man the position of being able to crush you or limit you at any moment.
Quite recently, my ‘habit induced brain’ led me to be drawn to another potential mentor. I admired him. I looked up to him. Until one afternoon, with a few texted paragraphs, he crushed me. I was at the mercy of his whim and moods because I ate up everything he said like it was the last living and breathing testament of the gospel of entrepreneurship.
I gave him power. I begged for his permission. The result? I began to see his opinions as my own truth.
And isn’t that what constantly asking advice is all about? Asking for someone else’s permission or confirmation to do something that you want to do. Asking a mentor for his opinion?
A few draw backs of having a mentor:
- You become limited by the success of your mentor
- What worked for them may not necessarily work for you
- The belief that you can’t succeed without a mentor is a limiting one, especially if you never find a good mentor
- The potential for human dependency is an ever present one
So how do we stop asking for permission? Especially when we are surrounded by close friends and associates who constantly offer it.
- Realize that you are an entity all by yourself – A unique universe within the universe
What worked for your mentor won’t necessarily work for you. Maybe because you’re an individual and may have a very different approach to things. Give your individuality space to breathe. The success goal might be the same but there are several paths to get there.
- Quit the urge to please other people
This is a primal one, I know. This caveman like urge to be with the herd in order to survive; to take directives from the master. I am yet to find another article that better explains this phenomenon along with amazing advice on how to curb it – Taming the Mammoth: Why You Should Stop Caring What Other People Think
- Get comfortable with self- accountability
The scariest part of moving from a 9-5 into entrepreneurship is having no else to blame but you. There’s no bull headed boss (Oh wait, that’s you!), no rigid HR rules, no ridiculous company policy – No excuses. The failures and bumps are all yours to own but so are the victories. Having a mentor can block you from shouldering the full consequences of your actions and attempts. Uncertainty is something you must become comfortable with.
Slowly, very slowly, as your authenticity blossoms you will attract your tribe. Out of the social wood work they will climb and they will recognize you just the way you are – being your authentic self.
So, take a hammer to those mental pedestals and pull down the elevated restrictions these idols have placed in your mind. You are free to experience your own failures, attempts, victories, un-trodden paths and adventures.
Realize that exploring the world alone is a two fold purpose. You uncover and you create, like a tapestry with a pattern that is completely unique to you.
Quit asking permission from others to live a life that is completely your own.