I’ve never had a mentor. Not in the usual sense of the word, anyway. I didn’t have that one person who excelled at everything I cared about, blazing trails that I hoped to follow, telling me “Someday you’ll be as successful as I am, if you play your cards right,” and “No, no, let me show you how it’s done.”
I do have unusually supportive parents, and I’ve been fortunate enough to learn under some really amazing professors in the past, but I’ve never found the already-wise Plato to my still-learning Aristotle; the streetwise Artful Dodger to my naive Oliver.
I don’t know if it’s a matter of no one having stepped up, or if I just haven’t come across the right person yet.
Or maybe, just maybe, I’m not mentorable at all.
A part of my personality that is both boon and bane is my tendency to learn from everything and everyone. I get the biggest kick out of conversations with absolute strangers, and the lessons I can take away from a novel experience are sometimes life-changing.
On the flip side, I have a very difficult time trusting the opinions and knowledge of individuals. Sure, if Sir Richard Branson were to lecture me about diversification or if Seth Godin offered to teach me everything he knew about building a brand, I would absorb everything I could, take detailed notes, and very likely change the way I do certain things.
But I would not strive to become a Branson or a Godin. Branson and Godin already exist. I’m Wright. I’m different.
It was due to this realization that I decided to add a somewhat novel, community-driven aspect to Exile Lifestyle when I first conceived of it back in April. I wanted to give my readers the ability to tell me where to live. I knew the kind of readership I wanted: people with ideas and opinions who I could inspire and who would inspire me in return. People who knew things I didn’t know and could easily spell words I couldn’t even pronounce. I didn’t know how this relationship would work then, but after almost 6 months of writing this blog, I know what I want.
I want my readers to be my mentors, my gurus, and to reciprocate the best I can.
And so far, you folks have not let me down. I’ve gained a massive amount of insight on topics ranging from celebrities to hand-to-hand combat, the Law of Attraction to tipping; Label Theory to online dating. I hope I’ve given back even a fraction of what you’ve given me.
In regards to you telling me where to live, after a month of voting and anticipation, the results are in and another stellar bit of crowd-sourced gurudom has been performed.
Around the 15th of January, 2010 (about 3 months from now), I will be moving from Argentina to New Zealand.
What I currently know about New Zealand is limited to the jokes I’ve heard on Flight of the Conchords, the landscapes I saw in the Lord of the Rings movies, and the few descriptions I’ve been given by extreme sports enthusiast friends who have visited in the past. Otherwise, I’m totally ignorant about Australia’s noble-neighbor. What do they do for fun? What’s their currency? How do they live?
These are things that I’ll be reading up on before I go, but I would love to get your input, as well. Shoot me an email and let me know where I should visit while I’m there, whom I should meet, and what I should do. While you’re at it, tell me a bit about yourself! I love meeting new people, and chances are if you are reading this blog we’ll get along swimmingly.
Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow
As I continue to build my life here I Buenos Aires, I’m acutely aware of the fact that I will soon be saying goodbye to all the amazing friends I’ve met and the city I’ve come to love. In less than a month I’ll be moving to a different part of the country — someplace a little less urban — so that I can take in more of the beautiful rural landscapes that make up most of Argentina. There will be a whole new set of challenges to face, cast of characters to meet, and lessons to learn. Starting over won’t be easy. Not one bit.
Through it all, though, I have you — my mentors, my gurus — to help stimulate my mind with a clever comment or pick me up with a kind email. I may not have an Ayn Rand to my Alan Greenspan, but I do have a steadily growing audience of intelligent and thoughtful people who take time out of their day to read my words.
I think I got a much better deal than Mr. Greenspan.
Update: May 30, 2016
First, the elephant in the room: at this point in time, I had no idea how most people (including Ayn Rand) interpreted Ayn Rand’s work. I drew very different conclusions from a lot of what I read of her’s, and as such, tended to mention her quite a bit. It wasn’t till I started watching some of the interviews she did and reading some of her essays that I was all, “Oh wait, oh hell, oh no.”
Second, I’ve been asking readers to email me and say hello / tell me about themselves from essentially Day One at the blog, and that’s turned out to be one of the better choices I made.
Third, I still wonder about the mentoring thing, sometimes. I didn’t realize until I was writing about the experience later that one of my clients back in LA was trying to be my mentor. He asked me to be her protégé, which should have made it obvious, but there was a lot about that time in my life that I didn’t really grok, except in retrospect. At this point, though, I wonder what that relationship would even look like, and if perhaps I’m better off having taken this path, feeling so strongly as I do about being me, rather than trying to be a copy of someone else. I’m guessing there’s probably a way to do both, but I don’t really see that too often, in practice.
Fourth, I really enjoyed the rest of Argentina, outside of BA. I think I talk about that more in future posts, but I wanted to mention it here because the overland trip around the country and longer-than-planned stay in Ushuaia, at the end of my stay, were truly kick-ass ways to spend my time.