Mentors are great in theory, but don’t always play out the way you want them to in real life. Perhaps your chosen mentor isn’t as helpful as you had hoped, or you can’t find a mentor to begin with. If that’s the case, journalist-turned-blogger Joanna Goddard has a suggestion: Make a list of your dream mentors and ask yourself what they’d do in or think of a given situation. Here’s how to do that.
Harness the power of your dream mentor
When she first started her blog, A Cup of Jo, in 2007, Goddard says that there really wasn’t much out there in the way of advice for creating or sustaining that type of platform. So without any mentors she could work with in real life, she made a list of people she considered mentors from afar — people she had never met, but whose opinion she trusted.
For Goddard, this list included “magazine editor Pilar Guzmán, author Anne Lamott, force of nature Michelle Obama, and neck-hater and all-around genius Nora Ephron.” Whenever Goddard wasn’t sure what to do or how to handle a situation, she’d ask herself “What would Michelle Obama think about this?” and then tried to do that (or at least her version of it).
Create your own mentoring experience
Along the same lines, you can also acquire your own unofficial mentor by paying attention to what someone you admire is doing, and taking it as type of advice/mentorship. In her post, Goddard also refers to a passage from Mindy Kaling’s memoir Why Not Me? where she discusses this piece of advice from her own mentor, Greg Daniels:
You take your mentoring where you can find it, even if it is not being offered to you. Have you ever used your neighbour’s Wi-Fi when it wasn’t on a password? If you have the opportunity to observe someone at work, you are getting mentoring out of them even if they are unaware or resistant. Make a list of the people you think would make the greatest mentors and try to get close enough to steal their Wi-Fi.
Of course, most of us don’t have the opportunity to work with someone behind some of the most iconic TV shows of our time, but we may work with someone with a career trajectory we’d like to emulate. If you find that person, pay attention.