27 May 2016

Day 16: Mentors - Someone to Look Up To & Tell You "You Don't Suck!"

Greg Daniels yammering on about something super profound and Mindy Kaling hanging onto her mentor's wise words.

When you're in the throes of doing a bunch of scary things at once, your mind goes nuts with self doubt. This single sentence pretty much sums up my week. In the middle of that, all I needed was someone to look up to and tell me: 

"You don't suck. You're amazing and here's why..."

This is why mentors kick ass. 

One of my personal heroes (and, in my mind, future bestie), Mindy Kaling also has one such mentor. His name is Greg Daniels and they worked together on "The Office." She asked him to write a few words on what it means to be a mentor for her book, Why Not Me?, and he did.

In his essay for Mindy, one of my favorite tips Greg Daniels gave was how to approach getting a mentor. Insider info from the creator of the American version of "The Office" on how to succeed when I'm trying to break into writing? SIGN ME UP! He said:

"I have had the benefit of a lot of great mentors... I know a lot of people are probably thinking, good for you, but nobody has ever wanted to be my mentor. 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 people you think would make the greatest mentors and try to get close enough to steal their Wi-Fi."

I've been listening to Why Not Me? on Audible and I love how Mindy talks about Greg. I also love how Greg talks about Mindy. There's this level of mutual admiration that you can feel; this admiration is where the magic happens.

After a day filled with tiny panic
attacks, this was my face post-
nacho lunch with Liks.
Having come from a less than ideal childhood, I can vouch for the importance of having people around you who are looking out for your best interests, especially those pesky magical ones.

I've been blessed with more than a few people in my life that seem to take this role on willingly (why? I may never truly know). 

One of those people is my editor, Greg Likins.

The fact that anybody I just happened to meet at work wouldn't mind talking to me about his cool skills still kind of baffles me. But suddenly, there I was, talking about some amazing shit. And  in the middle of all that amazingness, I found out we have lots in common, but we're just on different levels on the ladder to where we wanna be.

That happens to be a great place to be when you're lookin' to up your game in huge and scary ways. And it seems that successful mentor-ships have a pretty decent amount of give & take.

This is how I imagine mentorship usually goes:
  • Meet a human
  • See other human struggle with something you've been through
  • Help other human
  • Get surprised when other human wants to help you, too

So when I was freaking out this last week, Liks calmed me down. He talked me through the things rationally, we brainstormed some idea for my book outline and came out with a solid focus. And it's usually pretty hard to get me to focus, so that's another skill he can add to the list.

Greg Likins Editor
Books on the brain? Always.
I hope that one day, when Mindy & I are downing a bag of chicharrones and gulping Diet Pepsi's on her couch, we'll both bring up something we have in common: We have mentors we look up to named Greg.

"The Gregs" (cos we're totally call them!) are crazy selfless humans who don't know how helpful they are when they encourage us to be ourselves.

"The Mindys" (yeah - I'd be open to changing my first name, if that's what it was down to) wouldn't be half as dialed in were it not for The Gregs knowing how to assist us without hindering us.

The benefit of the balance between a dose of reality whilst dreaming
is unparalleled... that is, if you're open to it.

Being able to take feedback well and really consider what your mentor is saying can be the key to whether or not they continue to put forth the energy in being your mentor. It's hard work, yo!

I hope to surprise Liks by introducing him to people who need someone with his particular skill set: thoughtful editing with an emphasis on encouragement.

May we all aim to be mentors with that kind of focus, especially when we don't realize our Wi-Fi is being tapped.

Love & junk,

- Steph 

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