According to the dictionary, a mentor is an experienced or trusted advisor. I was someone who always overthought how someone becomes a mentor. I did because I was looking for a strong personal bond that was developed over time. I thought a mentor becomes a mentor over a long period of time with a developed relationship. I thought when someone becomes a mentor, it kind of just happens unbeknownst to you. That is true at times but, mentors can be found literally anywhere. I mean my mentor, Mindy Kaling, told me so in her book. Actually, Mindy's mentor, Greg Daniels, brought it to my attention but, I came across this concept in her book Why Not Me. On page 89, Greg wrote:
"You take your mentoring where you can find it, even if it is not being offered to you. Have you ever used your neighbor’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."
At that moment, Mindy became my mentor. I thought there is no reason for her to not be my mentor. I am able to learn about what she did throughout her life and how she became well, Mindy Kaling. I realized that in any memoir I read, I am getting an inside look into their life. They are sharing their experiences, their successes, their failures, their random Tuesday morning thoughts, and their deepest darkest secrets (just kidding, they don't write about those). The author is becoming my mentor. They legit fit the definition of what a mentor is because they are clearly experienced (a published book about your life kind of proves that they are experienced) and I do trust them.
My mentor, Mindy, taught me that anyone can be my mentor as long as I can see or get close enough to what they are doing. Thanks to Mindy's books and her work, she was able to become my mentor. Mindy might not be aware that she has become my mentor but, she has! Understanding that, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Urzila Carlson, Simon Sinek, Brené Brown, Adam Grant, Chasten Buttigieg, Michelle Obama, Barak Obama, Glennon Doyle, Jenna Fischer, Austin Kleon, Elizabeth Gilbert, and so many others have become my mentor. As I have read and learned from their work, their memoirs, and their life experiences they taught me so much. They mentored me on how to lead with vulnerability and courage, how to show up and be present, how to follow my passions, how to create and keep going, how to be a working creator, how to make the most of my work life. All of these people don't know the entire scope of their impact and how they have given me so much. It has become clear that anyone can become a mentor and I will always take that with me.
If someone writes a book, has a podcast, has a tv show, is a friend, or is simply nearby they can be a mentor. Anyone can be a mentor because people always learn from each other. A stranger on the street could be my mentor or I might be able to be their mentor. Don't believe me? Well, have you ever stepped on the grass which turned to be a mud pit, and then reacted strongly? The person behind you is now aware that there is a mud pit there and they should avoid it. You aren't aware of what you did but, you successfully helped mentor someone else around a pile of mud. Like my mentor, Simon Sinek, says, we are all in one big infinite game with many of us on the same team. A win for one of us is a win for the team. Mentors help the team succeed. There is something special about knowing that a mentor could be found anywhere and that some people look to me as a mentor (even if I don't know who I might be mentoring). Some of those relationships can start building a better world and I know that when someone else on my team, my big unknown team, succeeds that will be a win for all.
I do have to acknowledge the mentors that are close to me and that I have been fortunate enough to get to know. These mentors know who they are but, each of them helped change my life. Whether that was through working for them at a theatre, constant phone calls and conversations with them, a teacher or professor providing guidance, a close friend, or those small little interactions in passing time they helped me learn and grow. I wouldn't be where I am now without their teachings, guidance, and being able to have conversations with them. I am grateful that some of my mentors are my friends, some of my mentors are teachers, and some of my mentors come from the world around me.
Much like Greg Daniels' sentiment, go snag a mentor like we try to snag that good Wi-Fi!
*Books by some of my mentors