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Mentorship and Self-Importance

People complain about the lack of mentorship, yet finding a mentor was never hard for me. That is because I am capable of, as medicine man Don Juan Matus advised, "surrender feelings of self-importance." If I want to get at someone, then I will put the other person first. This sounds easy. Yet how many do it? 

If someone I wanted to get close to kept Bonsai trees, then I'd go the bookstore and get a pile of books on it. I'd spend dozens of hours reading about it. When I finally saw the person, I'd say, "I never thought Bonsai trees were cool. Then I checked out John Smith's work. It never occurred to me that [insert some interesting point]."

You think that person is going to talk to me? Or does he want to talk to another dumb-fuck person who offers a generic introduction or a compliment?

Now some may say my approach ingratiating, but you know what, that's wrong. If someone found out the books I read, then read them to get closer to me....Am I supposed to not like that person? What the fuck is wrong with some of you people? Do you really think you're so awesome that showing up and "being yourself" is going to win another person's attention? 

Think about it like this: However big your ego is...It's going to get bigger when you actually accomplish something. If you think you're important now, how do you suppose someone who is actually important views himself? Now do you see why you're irrelevant?

Most people go to someone important and say, "I want you to mentor me." Why should they? Because you exist? I am sorry, but there are 6 billion other people like you, so if all you got it, "I'm special," then good luck, because that's what everyone else thinks.

Plus, people in your field don't even usually want to talk about the field you're in. Think about it.

You want to get at a trial lawyer. He probably has trial lawyer friends. Why would he want to talk about trial lawyering with you? 

In law school, my friend was able to get himself a meeting with L.A.'s top one or two trial lawyers. When the lawyer heard that my friend's family came to the United States as refugees, the lawyer asked, "Have you read House of Sand and Fog?" My friend was flabbergasted, and blew the interview. "He just walked to talk about culture, and love," he told me. My friend was totally unprepared to talk about anything other than trial lawyering. 

During my first year, I met an important trial lawyer. He asked me if a kept a journal? He found it highly amusing that I got ink on his hand. My fountain pen exploded, I didn't notice, and the ink got onto his hand from mine. "If I kept a journal, this would be precisely the kind of thing I'd write about."

So....Yeah...I got ink on an important lawyer's hand. That's what he would have remembered from the meeting. 

He then told me I was too fidgety and should start meditating. I don't think we even talked about law.

Yet when a 20-or-30-something talks to an old lawyer, what do you think he's going to want to talk about? Your theories of law or trial advocacy? LOL. Seriously. Most older male lawyers want to talk about pussy, watches, and cars. If you show up thinking you're awesome because you're a lawyer, you're going to get blown out. You'd be better advised learning about whiskey and cigars. Or journaling. Or meditating. Or Bonsai trees.

So the problem with mentorship isn't a lack of mentors. It's that there's an oversupply of people who think themselves so god-damned interesting that simply showing up "eager to learn" is enough to get someone's attention. It's not. 

People who want a mentor should figure out what the would-be mentor is actually interested in. Spend several dozen hours learning about that subject. Then, once the meeting arises, start talking about the subject that interests the person. Talk about anything other than yourself.

Doing the above will find you with plenty of mentors, and will get you outside of your own head, which will make you a well-rounded person.

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