I sometimes forget to look for mentors in an area I need help in – instead favoring books and learning myself. I know this to be something that can limit my progress forward on an area and one that I could stand to grow in. It occurred to me how many tips I could take and also how many mentors I’ve sought out in the past few years.
One of the major advantages to something like CrossFit is the personalized coaching. Getting a training session with an extremely experienced trainer 3 times a week isn’t something that seems unusual. More days than not I start the day with a challenge from Roy or Abel at Steel Furnace CrossFit.
A few years back I started attending an Olympic Lifting class at the gym, with a focus on a few select movements — clean, jerk, front squat and snatch. The coach for it, Mike Koenig was an amazing trainer I’d worked over the last 2 years, and this specialized class helped me push through many of my weaknesses in this area in a very short time.
Another unlikely addition to my fitness regime over the past few years has been adding a dash of yoga. Every week at my work, we would push the ping pong table aside and do a yoga session. Courtney Singleton was an amazing instructor at easing me into the yoga world, in a non-sweaty introductory way that has helped my flexibility, and surely my performance in other fitness aspects as well.
After I strained my ankle a few years ago, yoga was one form of exercise that felt best for it.
I never thought I’d like running. As a kid growing up with asthma, any physical activity like this was asking for trouble. The path around Lake Eola is a beautiful run, and depending on the time of year it’s something to take advantage of. When some coworkers started running after work once a week, I wasn’t immediately excited about the idea, but soon enough I was looking forward to the group activity.
Growing up, I remember going to my flute lessons in my karate gi. I didn’t play flute for too long, maybe 2 or 3 years, but left always wanting to play the piano. My dad was always an inspiration to me in the area of music. Throughout my early years, the house was filled with piano or guitar strings, which I came to love waking up to.
A few years back I decided to take the plunge and buy an electric piano and find myself a teacher. I’d put this off for quite a while mostly because I know it’s not something that’ll happen overnight. For about a year I attended classes with Al at Winter Garden Music near my house. Al’s the kind of guy who you’d give any piece of music to and he’ll play through it verbatim on the first run through.
I’ve mentioned how I quit learning piano after about a year. In the end, I couldn’t find a way to enjoy practice. If I could find a way to do that, I’d love to try again.
When it comes to programming, there’s something you can learn from everyone you meet, so it’s impossible to list out any kind of complete list of mentors. My coworkers at Code School / Pluralsight push me to learn, teach and grow, especially Eric Allam, Carlos Souza, Gregg Pollack and more recently Mitch Dumke.
Not all mentors are as hands-on as the in-person list above. Some mentors are idea creators and code writers who you interact with through the product of their work. Ever since stumbling on Inventing on Principle and Learnable Programming, I’ve been following (stalking?) Bret Victor. I’m reasonably sure it’s normal to have Google Alerts set up for whenever his name is mentioned.
Working at Code School and always trying to push the envelope when it comes to how we teach, just seeing these kinds of inspirational ideas helps immensely. Following the specific approaches Bret mentions aren’t the important takeaway, but attempting to understand a concept from a students perspective and giving the tools for them to feel powerful when learning is an important goal to strive for.
The number reason I have not found mentors for areas I want to grow in is simple: I haven’t asked for help. Asking for help, especially in areas I’m weak in isn’t my goto method of solving a problem. Instead, I tend to throw myself completely into a topic, reading all available information until I’m proficient. With the help of a lot of these mentors above, I’ve come to realize that’s not usually the most effective, healthy or productive route – often looking for a mentor is.
There are rare cases where a mentor may surprise you with an offer (I’m looking at you Lily, and your comment about helping me with Pinterest!), but for the most goals, the best way to find a mentor is to seek one out. With that in mind, here are a few areas I’m hoping to find mentors in. For all of these, I could read nonstop for days, or learn over time, but I’m going to try something different and look for mentors instead.
- Growing organic blog traffic search traffic. Right now organic search makes up about 3% of my traffic, but it’s some of the longest-staying visitors. I want to grow this dramatically, fast and effectively.
- Launching a product. I’m hoping to package up my Minimal Investor Course into a book (or something) later this year or early next year. I want to do what I can now to help that prepare to be a success down the line.
But aside from these, even just getting others thoughts on what I could do with Minafi to make it a success. I think this falls into the category of general blog coaching.
All of these aren’t urgent calls for mentors, but for those who have had mentors in these categories, I’d love to hear from you. How did it go? Would you recommend it? If so, would they be OK with you sharing their info with me?