Much to my father’s dismay, I chose to study philosophy as an undergraduate. While it caused some difficulty when I initially entered the professional world, I enjoyed my time in the discipline immensely and am thankful for many of the lessons.
There is one exercise, introduced to me my freshman year, that I value a great deal and still employ to this day. My first philosophy professor encouraged us to reflect and be honest with ourselves about who we are, what we know and what skills we possess. Once we recognized and accepted our shortcomings, he pushed the exercise a step further. He recommended that we should look outside of ourselves to the world around us, and seek the guidance and instruction of those that knew, or at least appeared to know, that something that we yearned to understand. In essence, he was directing us to seek quality mentors – people who specialized in the areas we were curious about, and had a history of success in that realm.
It was a difficult exercise, but one that I continue to practice on a routine basis. I have sought and continue to seek mentors on a wide range of themes. I have or have had mentors on business and professionalism, writing, love, women and relationships, fashion, music and performance, cooking and manners, religion and spirituality.
These mentors are friends, family, bosses, colleagues, athletes, writers, artists, heroes, models, news anchors, famous folk, fictional characters and strangers.
Making this a routine exercise will develop a mindset that values honesty and fosters growth. If you do not know something or are not naturally gifted in a certain area, be honest with yourself and recognize it. Then seek the counsel of someone who does know or is gifted in that area. You will develop core capacities and competencies faster and become a stronger, more thoughtful and more rounded individual because of it.