Throughout our lives we strive to achieve goals, or improve upon a new set of skills that we want to embrace. There are many scenarios where we can achieve these things through our own self studies and experiences, but the majority of the things we accomplish are the results of an outside influence.

Our paths will present us with many teachers through different scenarios. Some teachers are sought out but most are assigned to us. The influence of some teachers may not always leave a significant impression on our lives but others can have an influence that is profound.

In our lives, we all seek guidance at different stages of our development and often need to seek out someone who has gained the experience and wisdom that we desire. We are looking for someone to mentor us. A mentor can be a teacher, but not all teachers are mentors. The wisdom that we seek out can be as individual as each one of us.

What is a mentor? I would define a mentor as someone who has the wisdom and experience that they are willing to share with someone who is truly invested in learning their craft. A mentor will not only share their knowledge but also challenge and empower you to step out of your comfort zone and stay with you as you develop your talents.

A mentor is not only interested in the subject that they are teaching you, but also wants to know details about your life, experiences, achievements, challenges and successes. They want to honestly know what your goals are and what steps and paths you have taken to develop your skills up to this point. They want to know the things that you are struggling with and the failures you have encountered along the way. The more they are truly aware of your situation, the more valuable they can be in assisting you along your chosen path.

In my own life and career as a musician, I have made choices based on the paths I felt I was expected to take, which often lead me along a path that was based on comparison to the choices that others have made. These choices did not fulfil me or allow me to find what I was searching for. Once I began to invest in myself and seek out the guidance and support of a mentor, I began to realise that the paths I had chosen to follow were not the ones that I was meant to be on.

A mentor won’t just tell you how to do something and leave you to it to figure out, but they will show you how and empower you to push yourself. They will guide you by referring you back to the fundamental skills that are often overlooked at the beginning of your development and encourage you to invest the time to revisit and further improve your fundamentals. Too often, we overlook the value of the basics. A mentor can guide us back to the fundamentals and allow us to excel in our development by refocusing on what is important.

A mentor will show patience and encouragement and check in with you throughout your development. Often, they will assign you a task to focus on and not want to check in with you again until you have invested the time into this. We need to trust our mentors and respect the assignments they give us, as it is though their own experiences that they have mastered the skills that we are now seeking from them. They may not always share with you why you are doing these things at first, but we need to respect their processes and we will be become better because of it.

There will be many mentors in your life. Sometimes they will be with you for the whole process and sometimes they may just be there for part of your journey but it is necessary for us to trust and value their experience. We need to also be aware that just as each of us is on our own unique path, not every mentor is suited for each of us. It is often said that when the student is ready, the teacher appears. It has been the case that the mentors that have influenced me the most were not always the ones that I sought out but rather appeared at the right time in my journey.

In your search to find a mentor in your life, you need to be open and honest with yourself to discover what you are truly seeking and take the time to talk to others who share the same interests or struggles. By reflecting on yourself, you will find that the right mentor will present themselves when you are ready. Don’t force a mentor into your life but rather embrace them when they arrive as their presence and wisdom can often be unexpected.

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