Penelope Trunk told me that she couldn’t be my mentor. “You’re too difficult,” was what she said. At the time I didn’t care because I thought that I hated her. Emotions run high in early-stage start ups. Ours was no exception.
Over time I realized that I didn’t really hate Penelope. What I really hated was my lack of confidence when becoming self employed. Once I figured that out, we became friends.
A friend. Not a mentor. I have learned plenty about myself just from being around her, but I don’t want to be like her. I have a lot of people like this in my life.
Trial and error is my mantra. I’ve always learned things the hard way. It makes sense that I would ally myself with people I don’t typically agree with. Things are more interesting that way, and you learn more too.
When is the last time that you learned anything about yourself without conflict? The biggest lesson that I learned in 2009 was to push back when people are expecting too much out of me. I learned to set expectations for people, and if they didn’t like it, tough luck. I didn’t learn how to do this through someone I wanted to be like, I learned it through people who are nothing like me at all.
In essence, the big epiphany moments, the light bulbs, every “a-ha” was something that I came to when I stepped closer towards people I didn’t want to be like and further from people who made me feel comfortable. Chaos has been my muse, and so far she’s treated me quite well.
Life would be boring without the people that make us tick. They force us to think in different ways because we want to debate their ideas. Some days we win, others we lose. In the end, we all learn something.
I’ve never had a mentor in the traditional sense, and I think that maybe I don’t need one. I’m not the type of person who needs people to hold in high regard. I just need people who push me. And usually the best person to do that is someone who is not very much like me at all.