The Importance of Mentors

I hope you’ve been lucky enough to have a mentor. Someone who’s been able to help you transform your life or at least a part of it. Like an umbrella in the rain they offer security, wisdom and support to help us move forward with new projects, learning or ideas. In dictionary terms a mentor is an experienced and trusted adviser. Words like confidant, counsellor and consultant keep popping up to describe them. So how do they help?

  • Mentors are experts in their field. This may be professionally or within a creative community. They’re industry or artistic leaders and this gives them credibility. Learn as much as you can from them. It’s actually okay for this to be important because we all want to learn from the best.
  • Mentors provide validation to an important area of our lives. I mean, isn’t it great that someone you respect wants to take the time to improve your practice. The belief they have in you shouldn’t be underestimated. After all, why would they bother if they didn’t feel you were worth it? So embrace this recognition and celebrate their faith in you.
  • Mentors have good connections. Whatever you’re doing or want to achieve we don’t live in isolation. Now more than ever it can be really helpful to have someone support you to forge industry or community links. Build on opportunities which present themselves.
  • Collaboration is a vital part of the mentor/mentored relationship. The opportunity to share ideas, discuss options, and review actions, develops a partnership for a purpose. Mentors ask the difficult questions while pushing you to do your best. Continue to earn their respect by trying and or acknowledging what they suggest as your work advances.

If someone you respect is offering you mentor-ship don’t ignore it, if you think you’d benefit from mentoring seek it out. I’m eternally grateful to the people who’ve taken the time to mentor me. At its core the mentor/mentored relationship is reciprocal, it may last only weeks or a lifetime, but it’s a relationship which changes you forever.

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”  Benjamin Franklin

Making A Tough Decision

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Making the big decisions is one of the hardest things we have to do, especially if they effect relationships, career or health. Maybe this springs from our desire to control, maybe we want the cake and to eat it too, maybe outside pressure is backing us into a corner. But whatever the reason, being in that state of flux isn’t good. You get swept up in the world of what if and as the poet Edward Young said, “Procrastination is the thief of time.”

  • So give yourself a time frame or the situation may possibly have one. Of course there are some decisions you can’t rush. Circumstances need time to play out. But don’t fool yourself, there always comes a point when you need to decide. Putting it off any longer than that is just making excuses.
  • Ask the advice of a friend. One who knows you really well, warts and all, and one who’ll be honest with you? It can be tricky asking for advice and then not acting upon it. But advice is like a present, we should give it freely and be able to receive it without obligation. A good friend has your best interests at heart and wants what’s best for you.
  • Weigh up the pros and cons. Don’t be afraid to make a list. Writing alternatives down focuses thinking. This makes options more concrete rather than random swirls of thought which come and go.
  • And follow that hunch. There’s a lot being written about the power of our inner voice. And sometimes if we allow ourselves to shut out all the other dialogue we can hear the answer we need.

When the decision is done you really do feel lighter. Take comfort in the fact there are no guarantees, because no matter what you decided you cannot control the outcome. The most interesting people I know have made some decisions they regretted but others which have transformed their lives.

Do You Need Creative Inspiration?

 

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You know sometimes we are so bombarded by where we should be finding inspiration that we can forget to look around us. We become so preoccupied with that greener grass, tempting us from the other side of the fence, that we ignore our own backyard. If you find yourself daydreaming more than doing, wishing more than appreciating, have a look for your inspirations close to home. Be mindful of your current environment, be present, and allow yourself to experience it in as many sensory ways as you can.

  • Your local natural world is a wonder. A garden, a park, a beach, whatever is near you, observe it. Albert Einstein summed this up so beautifully, “Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.”
  • Find a possession which you love. A painting, a book, a plant. Something, which every time you see it, you feel lucky to have. Imagine the journey it took to create it, the hours, or the passion which inspired it.
  • Remember feelings of accomplishment and achievement, find the items which remind you of your successes. A photo, a card, a present. They are our symbolic trophies, so stop and reflect on the work it took to receive them. Let them be a source of future inspiration.
  • And listen to your own personal soundtrack. Music takes us to the good times and the bad. It allows the mind to wander which can lead to a new path.

It is often the smallest, most mundane of things, which combined correctly, produce the greatest of things. The details of the world give an authenticity to creative work. And, who knows, your next great inspiration could be a lot closer to you than you think.

Love your thoughts…

Art work by @Dana Kinter- an artist who inspires me.

Seek Out Your Positive People

Now, if I lived in The Hundred Acre Wood, of Winnie the Pooh fame, I wouldn’t be hanging with Eeyore for motivation.  Not that he’s not a nice person, but his glass is always half empty and that’s never a good vibe when you’re trying something new. There’s heaps of research about the benefits of surrounding yourself with positive people, especially if you’re on a fresh journey. We need them. The naysayers are not helping! So seek out your Tiggers, your positive people.

  • They thrive on energy. It’s infectious. Spend time with a passionate, enthusiastic person and you will be inspired. It doesn’t matter what they do or how they do it. It’s the energy that’s important. Don’t waste it, it’s a gift. They want you to have as much enthusiasm for your life projects as they do.
  • They take a risk. Sure, it may be a disaster but at least they try. We all need people who take risks in our lives. They push us to do new things or at the least help us confirm what we can’t and don’t want to do.
  • Motivated people are resilient. Look how when things go wrong they regroup and try again. It’s hard to dig deep and keep going but somehow they manage it. They inspire you.
  • They’re optimistic. A deep-rooted sense of self belief in themselves and the world cloaks them. Share it. Scoop it up.
  • They actually do stuff! And to get anything done you actually have to start.

Now, sometimes we all need a little down time. When you really can’t be bothered, hang with your loyal Piglets and depressingly funny Eeyore’s. But to get things done embrace positive people because, after all, “Bouncing is what Tiggers do best.”

P.S This is for my PP-you know who you are.

Is Self-Publishing a Digital Abyss or the Promised Land?

Now this is a tricky one and as someone sitting on the proverbial fence I’m considering my options. This is probably a familiar place for heaps of writers. Your work’s been written, it may even have had good feedback from publishers or agents, but there are still no takers. The possibility of a traditional publishing opportunity is looking increasingly bleak and the enthusiasm of your personal cheer squad is waning, “What’s happening with your book?”

It’s a bit of a grim place to be.

So, what are the pros and cons of self-publishing? Go on take out that notebook and have a scribble. These are the positives I came up with…

  • You can finally get the work out there. Yeah!
  • You’re actually doing something with that beast which has taken up so much of your time, energy and love.
  • The thought of putting the beast in a bottom drawer and forgetting about it is so depressing you’d rather take up wrestling…well actually…
  • You have control. Remember you’ve controlled your characters or content from the beginning so why give that up now.
  • It’s 2016 for goodness sake. The star of self and digital publishing has well and truly risen.

Now that all sounds fabulous so why am I still writing this and not out sourcing my book cover to a graphic artist? Because the legitimacy of getting a contract from a publisher is the big fat fish I want to catch and it bugs me it hasn’t happened. So, to the cons…

  • There are zillions of self-published books fighting for readership in the ISBN ocean. How will yours stand out?
  • Do you really have the skills, time and money to self-publish? Because you probably have a bill paying day job and are not a marketing entrepreneur?
  • What do you really want to get out of self-publishing? Will being able to say you’ve sold maybe three hundred books be enough of a return on all your hard writing investment? And once your book is published it will be very hard to reel it back in.
  • Finally, is this book part of your journey as a writer or your final destination…

There’s no denying these are the hard questions. But, like me, if you’ve finished that final draft you’ll probably have to face them.