Having a mentor maybe just the thing you need to level-up your income, impact, and influence.
My first encounter with the concept of mentoring came while listening to the Foundr podcast. I listened closely as the guest laid out the significance of finding a mentor and it's benefits. Even though, the podcast was centered around entrepreneurship, I knew deep-down that this was a valuable element to bring into my life as an actor.
Hustling in Place
I was well on my second year in Los Angeles, working my hardest at becoming a professional actor. I was doing background work on sets, doing as many short films I could, auditioning, and catering on my days off. I was on a mad dash to this imaginary "finish line" that I had created in my head.
In the beginning I did not mind all the hustling around. The "hustlers mindset" is necessary in an industry that requires perseverance and drive. But, I did come to a point where I knew I could not sustain this way of living, or I would definitely get burnt out. I knew that this way of life was going to take a toll on my mind, body, and spirit.
There had to be a smarter way to know if I was on the right path? I didn’t need to experience every pit-fall out there and make every mistake to become the actor I wanted to be. I could rely on the success of others before me.
You Are The Sum of the five people you hang out with
At this point, you have heard the truism about being the average of the five people you spend the most time with. So choose wisely. It doesn't matter how smart or talented you are, but it does matter who you spend time with. These are the people who will dictate your own success. You want to surround yourself with those who have the skills you are trying to learn and will encourage you to set higher goals and reach them.
There is no other industry where this theory is more visible. Hollywood is filled with "super tribes". From the method actors of the 50's, to the directors of the 70's and 80's who dominated the studio system for decades, to the comedy troupes who came out of SNL, Mad TV, and in Living Color. Now we are seeing more and more Directors-Actor teams being built (Damien Chazzelle and Ryan Gosling, Ryan Coogler and Michael B Jordan, David O-Russell and Jennifer Lawrence.) These symbiotic relationships enhance both parties involved. Find your tribe.
Don't go at it alone
Now that is not to say that you should avoid tough situations. You should seek out experiences outside of your comfort zone and work through obstacles as an actor, because that is how you grow. However, things like navigating conversations with your agents or deciding on the right head shot don't need to be handled alone. This is where a mentor's input can be advantageous.
Read more: A Daily Routine For Actors
How to get a mentor
There are multiple avenues to go down when trying to find a mentor. You can use social networking tools like Facebook or Instagram to start a conversation but the most important thing is to create a face-to-face relationship with that person over time if you can. It's good to define this relationship as one that is built on respect for one and another and not something that is one sided.
Gratitude and Love
Gratitude and Love should be at the core of any mentor/mentee relationship. Its about giving back and not being a user. Even if in the beginning you feel as though you don't have much to offer to your mentor, being gracious can go a long way.
Here are some ways to show gratitude to a mentor:
Invite them to coffee (you pay)
Invite them to a networking event/ industry event
Give them a personalized gift to show your appreciation
Give back to them in any way possible
Ask them if there is any way in which you can help them out
Having a mentor or being a mentor to someone is highly-rewarding. It’s a relationship that takes work to maintain, however the benefits for both parties involved are countless. If you decide to seek a mentor remember to keep an attitude of gratitude and find someone you feel comfortable being open about your failures and places for improvement. For the aspiring mentor, keeping an open spirit and deeply listening are keys to being a great guide.
There is always room to improve in our business, especially for actors new to the game. As one of my mentors has told me many times, "This business is about building relationships." Opportunities to network are everywhere. Some will say no, but some will say yes. Keep knocking until you get a positive response.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on how to get a mentor or hear about the knowledge you’ve gained from speaking to a mentor? Share in the comments below!