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Some of my mentors

As a very self-driven person, it hasn't been my modus operandi to seek out guidance or people to model after. Since 2014, I quit the full-time employment scene and decided to do my own thing.

I haven't looked back since, but it does get lonely and disorienting being out on your own. Over the years, I began seeking out advice and looking to people for options on the self-employment path. Through this, I've come to appreciate the importance of great mentors and role models.

paul kiting

What does "mentor" mean to me?

A mentor could play many roles in one's life. For me, looking at someone for guidance often means looking at their life and values--how do they live? How do they treat themselves? How do they make decisions? What is their system and hierarchy of values? That's gonna tell me much more about them than the pragmatic advice of "how do I get to do X like they're doing?"

In short, a mentor, for this blog post, means a person I've learned something very valuable from, whether they guided me directly or indirectly.

Two of my mentors

These are two of my favorite people as I embarked on this self-guided career and lifestyle:

Brennan

Perhaps one of the first people I learned about during my freelance journey. Brennan might be best known for his brand, Double Your Freelancing. Through his courses, he empowered many freelancers to build a better business, and ultimately have a healthier professional life (and work/life balance). I won't waste your time repeating what he says, so just go over to his sites and see for yourself. But here I tell you what I personally learned.

I can't remember who or how I stumbled upon Double Your Freelancing Rate, but I ended up buying the course and joining the community. I've also learned a lot about freelancing and building an agency through the free materials that Brennan puts out. (If you follow online courses/personal brand trends, you know by now that providing free value is a sure way to get people interested in paying for your courses.)

Through the book, and the multiple email series, I learned a lot of valuable advice, but this is the one that stuck with me the most:

Respect yourself. Treat yourself as a professional and others will do the same. Know what you're worth and charge accordingly.

There are tons of ways to distinguish yourself in the business world. But no matter what your values are, you must act professionally. Deliver on time. Respect your promises. Respect your own hours. Push back on client requests. Communicate clearly from the beginning and inspire trust in your services. This mindset has probably generated more value for me than anything else in the past 4 years, honestly.

Steve

Steve is probably the first personal development guide I've had, since well before I started freelancing. I was drawn to his communication style and all of the the experiments he writes about: polyphasic sleep—a thorough walkthrough, relationships, relationships, writing, and more. If you follow his writings, you'll see that they are all over the place, but there is a central focus: growth and experimentation.

This is one of the most valuable lessons I learned through reading Steve for years:

Have the courage to experiment until you find something you truly want. Many people are too afraid to ask for what they want, or don't know what they want in the first place.

You have to make space in your life for creative experimentation, and to question your assumptions. Lead your attempts with the confidence that an invaluable growth, no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time, will come through.

Over time, you get more and more clarity and focus. It's OK not to know where you will end up--in fact, it's normal. Most of us, when projecting 10 years into the future, just extend a natural continuation of where we already are. But, when we look back that far, we can obviously state a lot has changed in the last decade, and we could not have forseen some of the major changes that have happened. This is especially true when you're younger.

To me, that's a beautiful freedom! Think about how constrained it would feel if you HAD to be basically the same person living the same life for decades. We like change, hard though it may be. But here's the thing: we don't like uncertainty. It can be taxing and stressful not knowing where you're headed, and choosing to go off the beaten path (and freelance, for example) is the definition of uncertainty. ;)

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Bullet gems

What more have I taken from these mentors? These bullets may inspire you to seek out the same in your own life. From them I've learned:

  • To create your own path is possible.
  • You don't have to have a typical full time job.
  • You can have a work/life balance and be very productive simultaneously.
  • To treat yourself with respect and self-love.
  • To pass on the torch: teach other people.

Talk to me!

Do you have mentors? Who are they? I'd love to hear about them. Share them with me! I'm always interested in learning about great people.

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