When it comes to personal/professional growth, spiritual disciplines, and social media, we talk a lot about the importance of finding good mentors.
When you’re learning better ways of doing things, it can be fantastically helpful to have someone who has successfully navigated that territory to show you the way. Or at least, a way that has worked for them.
But here’s another thought: you may have even MORE to learn from people who have already boldly gone where you’re headed–and completely faceplanted.
I was thinking about this the other day while shaking my head at myself. Because I caught myself in a stupid, non-productive pattern of behavior. Something I should have known wouldn’t work.
I should have known that it wouldn’t work because I’d already seen someone else try the same thing. And because I like this person, I got incredibly angry and frustrated with them for doing it.
So how angry do you think I was at myself for repeating my friend’s mistake?
It got me thinking. In addition to consciously making note of people I need to watch to learn what to do, I need to consciously note the people who are consistently an example of What Not to Do.
You might wonder why you should make note of what I’d like to call your “anti-mentors.” After all, if you can see they’re often full of FAIL, won’t you naturally avoid their mistakes?
In theory, sure. In actual practice, not as much as you’d hope. At least, that’s been the case in my life.
We are drawn into relationship with people for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is because they allow us to see aspects of ourselves that we’d prefer to ignore. They become sort of a surrogate shadow. Pay close attention to the people in your life who are driving you nuts. They may be telling you something important about yourself.
An example of this is my post earlier this week about a friend (who should have known better) making a newbie blogging mistake. Instead of just getting frustrated with my friend, I stuck with my feelings until I was clear on why that bad post upset me. Eventually, I realized that I’ve either made, or been tempted to make, the same mistake lately. I’m more tired than usual lately, and when that’s the case, it’s tempting to beg for sympathy in a blog post without actually revealing anything meaningful to my readers. I apologize if a few of those posts slipped in here before I caught that. 🙂
So what about you guys? Do you have mentors? Anti-mentors? Has having a “What not to do” person helped you avoid making some mistakes, or just provided additional fodder for understanding after you’ve made them yourself?