Tuesday, April 12, 2016

My Four Mentors in Life, Business, and The Pursuit of Happiness

The word mentor is defined as a trusted counselor or guide and comes from the Greek Mentōr in the Odyssey. The idea of a mentor didn't hold much importance for me until a few years ago, and now I understand that having mentors may be one of the most important and beneficial things you can do for yourself and your growth.

Many, if not all, of the great people in history had mentors, Michelangelo and Mozart just to name a couple. The following four people are those I would consider my mentors. The funny thing is that I have never met any of them, and yet their guidance teaches and inspires me everyday. They are also my heroes, and I aspire to achieve the greatness they have, but in my own way. . . of course. 

1. Daisaku Ikeda

Daisaku Ikeda, or Sensei as many call him, is not only my mentor, but a mentor for millions around the globe. Ikeda Sensei is the most prolific human in recorded history with more volumes of work than Tolstoy and Gandhi.  What does he teach, you ask?

Peace and Happiness For All

Daisaku Ikeda is not a hippie or a "guru" exactly, but he has worked tirelessly to spread the message of peace through heart to heart dialogue with ordinary people and leaders around the world alike. He's no nonsense and yet every word of his carries an encouraging power that lifts off of the page and into your heart. His sincerity is unmatched. 

Alex Lickerman, the author of The Undefeated Mind, said in an interview with Brian Johnson (click here to listen), "The greatest gift is the gift of encouragement, making someone feel like they can solve their problem." Reading Ikeda Sensei's guidance not only helps me understand how to transform my life toward peace and happiness, but to help others do the same.

Many of my friends come to me for advice and a shoulder to cry on. For most of my life I have indulged their complaints with not much to offer except "Don't worry. It will all work out." But, by studying Ikeda's writings, I have noticeably been able to improve the conversation, steering it toward something positive. Empowering others has helped boost my confidence more than anything. 

I could write a book about the impact Daisaku Ikeda has had on my life, but I'll stop here. You can learn more about him at: http://www.daisakuikeda.org 

2. Marie Forleo

This isn't the first time I've written about Marie Forleo on my blog. I LOVE this woman. She's a coach for entrepreneurs and runs a flagship program once a year called B-School. Her story is one I go back to again and again because it's one of courage, patience, and persistence. When her job on the floor of the NYSE didn't work out as she had hoped, she was left to confront her future in a new way. Know what she did? She courageously followed her heart and built her business patiently over many years, supporting herself with "bridge jobs" and even pursued a career in dance.

When I discovered her in early 2014, I was working as a Financial Adviser and feeling like I was selling my soul. Her words of encouragement through episodes of Marie TV and in B-School gave me the courage to change course and pursue my dream of being a writer/publisher. She taught me that  you don't have to become someone you're not in order to run a successful business. It was extremely painful, emotionally, to grow into my authentic self, but it was worth every ache. Thanks, Marie!

You can learn more about this inspiring woman at www.marieforleo.com 

3. Brian Johnson

What you allow in your mind has more impact than you think. What you read, watch, and listen to. Very rarely does a day go by that I don't hear the positive voice of Brian Johnson from a podcast or Philosopher's Note on my iPhone. Brian Johnson is an incredible entrepreneur who figured out a way to get paid to read. Sounds like a dream, right? His mission is to help others optimize their lives by recapitulating some of the most profound wisdom, ancient and modern, and making it simple to apply to everyday life.

He's created summarized Philosopher's Notes, master classes, and even free youtube videos on hundreds of the best books on motivation, positive psychology, philosophy, mental training and more. 

His work has really taught me the importance of practice. 
Practice, practice, practice! 

In other words, greatness isn't from doing that one big, life-changing thing one time, but that life-changing greatness is due to the work you put in everyday. Every day is an opportunity to do a little better, grow and improve a little more.  That's how we optimize our lives.

If you want to feed your mind whole foods, you definitely have to check him out at www.brianjohnson.me

4. Elizabeth Gilbert

We all know Liz Gilbert from Eat, Pray, Love. But I really discovered how amazing she was when I read Committed. Not only is she a super talented and beautiful writer, she's a really cool woman.

The movie Coyote Ugly was based on an article she wrote for GQ Magazine. How cool is that?

There are so many reasons I look up to her, but the things that stick out the most are that she's a soul searcher and creative encourager. Liz uses her creativity as a way to learn more about herself and the world. It's not about being a NYT bestseller, though, I don't think she minds. She nurtures her creativity like a growing, living entity, and if you read her new book Big Magic, you'll find that creativity is more than an energy, it has a heartbeat.

Her philosophy on creative work really opened my eyes and my heart to view my writing in a whole new way, a playful way. She has a great relationship with her audience and is always encouraging others to express their creativity, authentically, and more importantly, NOW! Check out her Podcast Magic Lesson here.

And finally, she is my mentor in writing. The way she strings words together creates a beautiful tapestry, that's intricately beautiful and, at the same time, refreshingly simple.  I could never be her or have her style, but I aspire to have readers feel what I feel when they read my words.

Read her, love her, and visit her at www.elizabethgilbert.com 

I would love to hear from you. Who are your mentors and heroes in life? How have they helped shape who you are today? Please leave a comment below. 

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