Find empathy. Discover renewed purpose. Gain mentorship. Know you matter.
Those are the main points in any of my presentations and they are common themes across this project. They make sense to both veterans and non-veterans. When it comes to true suicide prevention, I believe these to be key.
I’ve noticed a lot of people view mentorship as this sacred bond they feel between themselves and a person with eternal wisdom 20 years their elder.
If that’s a situation you find, then that’s great. Most people can’t find perfect personal mentors. At least, not ones that look perfect on paper. In some communities, it may be difficult to discover a proper fit for you all together. I live in a metropolitan area, so I’m surrounded by opportunities to acquire personal and business mentors. I recognize that many of us do not have these same resources.
However, we do all have access to virtual mentors.
Virtual mentors are the people in your life that you’ve never met. You read their books. You listen to their podcast. You sign up for their newsletter. Each time they put out some form of content, you do your best to consume it.
You’ll most likely never sit in the same room and ask them questions, but they provide plenty of insight and wisdom in their material that you can navigate certain parts of your life. If anything, they’ll challenge your thinking and provide you with new ways to consider challenges.
I have about four virtual mentors: Tim Ferriss, Neil Strauss, Joe Budden, and James Altucher.
The first of these guys brought into my life was Joe Budden. He’s a hip hop artist that I truly admire for his lyricism. Many of his lines have resonated with me and have helped me pin point what is important in my life. I’ve used his material to support my thoughts in a recent post and am often seen quoting him on Facebook or Twitter.
Shortly after, Neil Strauss was introduced into my life. He has written many books including The Game and Emergency. I loved his material. I started to reconsider my approach to social interactions and problem solving. I joined his email list and do what I can to stay up to date with his ventures.
Just before getting out of the Marine Corps I learned about Tim Ferriss. Tim is a life hacker and has written a series of books including Four Hour Work Week and Four Hour Chef. I’ve learned a lot about prioritizing and taking control of my own time. While this may not seem profound, taking control of the time I give to other people has helped me become happier and more deliberate about who I expose myself to.
James Altucher is a fairly recent addition to my virtual mentors. I read his book Choose Yourself earlier this year and was amazed at his way of thinking. So, I signed up for his email list, subscribed to his podcast, and read another one of his books.
He gets it. He gets how to approach life. I’ve learned how to become more emotionally fit. I’ve learned how to accept failure and brush off problems that don’t truly matter. James will even be joining me on this podcast in the next couple months. He believes the rate of suicide among veterans is gross and wants to contribute however he can.
Who is your virtual mentor? Do you have an author that you enjoy? Is there a podcaster that is always inspiring you to think in new ways? It doesn’t have to be self-help type stuff or “be a better person” focused.
Maybe you see a parallel between Harry Potter and your life. Maybe Harry’s challenges have helped you overcome your own difficulty. If so, maybe J. K. Rowling is your mentor. Go watch his interviews or read anything else he’s written.
The best part about a virtual mentor, is they can’t truly fail you in a time of need. If you need inspiration, go back and read that blog post you enjoyed.
Tomorrow I could find out that Neil is a murderer, James has been lying this whole time, and that Tim is a drug addict. I would be disappointed but it wouldn’t take away everything I’ve learned from them.
If there is person near you that you consider a mentor, this is not a replacement for them. This can simply be a supplement. In fact, this could create for interesting conversation between you and your “real” mentor.
Lastly, do not discount your friends. Maybe they don’t have the right experiences to be a consistent mentor, but I would be willing to bet that they offer plenty of advice. My virtual mentor, Joe Budden, puts it best:
“Tell my friends each one, they taught me how to be one. I owe to them a part of everything I become.”