Mentor or meteor: Another self-help article.

Photo courtesy of wikimedia.org (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a7/Leonid_Meteor.jpg)

I am a huge fan of the self-help, leadership, time management, happiness, make-me-successful book genre.  I’ve read them all—How to Win Friends and Influence People, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun—a personal favorite, Who Moved My Cheese, and hundreds more—and I’ve learned a lot!  But learning doesn’t end with books.

Nowadays we have even more access to self-help resources.  Blogs, enhanced by sites like Medium.com, emerged several years ago, giving the common person—our fellow minions—a platform on which to share the great wealth of knowledge previously stifled by evil editors and publishers.  If someone with a smartphone, tablet or computer can’t find an article, post or missive to help them become more self-aware, it’s because their Wi-Fi is disabled.

Unfortunately, many well-intentioned bloggers and writers are missing the mark with their suggestions, listicles and ideas about how we might improve our careers, writing, travel and in the end, our lives.  There is an entire fleet of suggestions overlooked by this sea of helpful writers.  How are we to successfully self-improve if we do not have all of the information?

Recently I read an article on Medium titled, How to Find Mentors, by Darius Foroux.  The article was quite timely because as I delve into a new field, I am currently in search of a mentor.  In addition, having served on both sides of the mentor-mentoree relationship numerous times over the last forty years—in fact, I’ve even developed formal mentoring programs for organizations—I am passionate about the topic.  I read the article with zeal, hoping to glean some long forgotten or newly discovered insight.  What I found wasn’t in the article, but in an idea.

Mentors are important, no doubt.  But what about meteors?  The right meteor can be as valuable to personal and career development as the right mentor.  So here it is…

How to find meteors.

Meteors have been around for a really long time.  Seriously.  One report estimates that meteors could have existed even before humans—which I find hard to believe.  Maybe they existed before dinosaurs, but there is no way they’ve been around longer than humans.  In either case, they are really old, so they definitely know stuff that could help us both personally and professionally.

Billions of years of experience—remember, they’ve been around at least as long as humans—must count for something.  In the case of meteors, it means a whole lot of hard earned wisdom.  Most meteors we may find made it through heck and back in order to land on our little blue planet. NASA says space rocks smaller than 33 feet in diameter probably won’t make it through the atmosphere.  It takes a long time to grow bigger than 33 feet in diameter, another testament to the meteors longevity and experience.

Given their maturity, meteors can play an important role in our success.  Here we find a meteor, hundreds, or maybe billions of years old, developed into a minimum 33.0001 foot diameter behemoth, ready to impart all its wisdom and life-learning to the first person diligent enough to seek it out.  We would be fools to not take advantage of this opportunity.

Here are the seven things I learned about finding a meteor—based on my hours of meteor hunting experience.

1.  Stay organized.  When searching for a meteor, whether for personal or professional reasons, we must remember Ben Franklin’s immortal words, “For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.”  Ben was wise beyond his years—partially due to a fried cerebral cortex resulting from playing with kites in electrical storms—and his words ring as true today as they did 500 years ago.  Finding not just a meteor, but the right meteor, takes time and planning that pays off ten or twenty or maybe even fifty fold.  Plus, once found, the meteor itself makes an excellent paper weight, helping to perpetuate our disciplined organizational skills.

2.  Be selfish and giving.  The average meteor, found whole or in pieces, leads to an exciting sense of accomplishment.  How many people do you know that successfully found the right meteor?  I don’t know any, except for that guy at the Milwaukee Public Museum, but I think he bought it from somebody else.  When we identify the right meteor, our overwhelming sense of accomplishment is reflected in everything we do, from mocking those without a meteor, to selling rights to photograph our meteor to the highest bidder.  It’s okay to be selfish—in fact, own it.  Then, when things quiet down, remember to give a little back—maybe a small donation to the United Way after the check from the first publicity photos clear.

3.  Recognize opportunities for introspection.  Finding a meteor means finding one’s true self.  Remember, the meteor grew big enough to make it through the atmosphere, but also lived hard, fast, and unwavering.  There is a life lesson in the meteor’s meteoric rise to fame: be big and bold and success is virtually guaranteed.  Look inward, replace your feelings of worthlessness and self-doubt with your meteor’s fame, and be the best meteor—umm, person—you can be.

4.  Don’t waste the meteors time.  Right up until it impacted earth with enough force to pierce a Sherman Tank, the meteor was busy.  It was busy flying through space.  It was busy dodging bigger meteors, planets and comets.  It was busy being busy.  Once found, we can’t just sit around hoping for our meteor to make us a better person.  We need to proactively exploit our meteor-meteoree relationship to the benefit of both partners.  Meteors have needs and the biggest of those is seeing us succeed as quickly as possible.

5.  Establish a relationship, not ownership.  Meteors are people, too.  Well, actually, they are extremely dense, super heated space rocks.  But I know many people who are also dense, super heated humans, which gives us natural common ground with our meteor.  We should effort to identify additional commonalities in order to leverage our relationship.

Some areas from which to begin the discussion include: Both meteors and humans were once in space; Meteors and humans live hard and crash harder; humans own pet rocks—meteors are essentially rocks and might be related to one of our pets; and a meteor wiped out the dinosaurs—humans wiped out the Dodo.  There is much common ground.  Leverage it to create the best meteor-meteoree relationship possible.

6.  Don’t just be led, lead.  Although lazy now, spending much of their time laying around on some beach or buried in the desert, meteors were once fast moving, dynamic beings.  Yes, they’ve lost a lot of their relevance over the years, but that is a reflection of age and cultural dynamics, not desire.  Our meteors want us to take the lead, making decisions about the best course of action and how to implement it.  At this point in their career, our meteors will acquiesce to our youth, allowing us to pick them up and carry them pretty much anywhere we want to go.

7.  Pay it forward.  We owe it to ourselves to share the meteor-meteoree experience with as many people as possible.  It would be selfish to keep our radiation-emitting meteor from our closest friends and loved ones, thus depriving them of an ever-stylish shaved Sigourney Weaver-Alien 3 scalp.  We have a duty to share our blood vomiting, cramping, sleepless good fortune with everyone around us.  Perhaps that is the true benefit of the meteor-meteoree relationship—helping others achieve their goals.

Remember to pace yourself.  Diving into a meteor relationship can be time consuming.  Budget your efforts and maximize your return on investment by identifying as many meteors as you need and leveraging them for the most benefit.  Don’t get burned out on the first meteor to enter the atmosphere.

Patience is key to successfully identifying the right meteor.  They don’t grow on trees—at least not on earth.  There will be many disappointments.  Don’t waver in your commitment to find the right meteor, one perfectly fitted to your neurotic, self-indulgent, me-centric lifestyle.  Believe you will successfully find the right meteor and it will happen.

Finally, don’t become a slave to the process.  The meteor-meteoree relationship is not meant to last forever.  Eventually, you will need to sell your find to the highest bidder and retire to a beach in a third world country with cheap chemo cocktails.  Keep your eye’s peeled for just the right moment to make bank.

These are my ideas.  I don’t have all the answers or a blueprint for success, but you might find one on Google.  Remember, meteorship is like friendship—milk that rock for all its worth, then auction it off on eBay the minute it becomes too demanding.

Cover photo of meteor courtesy of wikimedia.org.


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