The One Shortcut That Exists in Life
Mentors can steer you away from the kinds of mistakes that are going to make you waste a year or two of your life.
Author and public speaker Robert Greene attended U.C. California at Berkeley and the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he received a degree in classical studies. He has worked in New York as an editor and writer at several magazines, including Esquire, and in Hollywood as a story developer and writer. In 1995 he was involved in the planning and creation of the art school Fabrica, outside Venice, Italy.
He is the author of numerous volumes on power, strategy, war, and seduction, including the international bestseller "The 48 Laws of Power," "The Art of Seduction," "The 33 Strategies of War," and "The 50th Law," co-written with rapper 50 Cent. Greene currently lives in Los Angeles.
All of us are looking for shortcuts in life. We want to be able to take a pill that will make us smarter or find some formula that will make it so we don’t have to go through 10,000 hours. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts.
But mentorship is the one and only shortcut that exists in life And the reason is if you find the right mentor for whatever field you’re in, they’ve made mistakes in life and they learned from them. They can steer you away from the kinds of mistakes that are going to make you waste a year or two of your life.
They’re gonna be able to see how you operate in the present and give you the kind of feedback that is gonna help you practice better. They call it deliberate practice in the field where you practice developing what you’re weak at. Only your mentor really is gonna be able to see what you’re truly weak at and give you that real time feedback.
There’s another element of mentorship that’s really powerful but it’s almost not – you can almost not put it into words. We humans – our brains are developed from learning by watching other people doing something. I talk in the book about mirror neurons which Vilayanur Ramachandran discusses a lot. The idea that we’re capable of putting our minds into another person and act and thinking as if we’re inside their body. We’re able to do that in a learning way. We can watch somebody do something and we can learn from it. It’s a very powerful form of learning that predates the invention of language.
When you’re around somebody who’s your mentor who’s very successful in the field you’re not only picking up the things that they talk about but you’re picking up all kinds of cues from how they carry themselves, from their habits, from their whole way of being that’s a very powerful thing to absorb. There’s a famous book about tennis, the inner game of tennis, in which he talks about tennis instructors who can’t verbalize the perfect serve but they can show it to you. And in showing it to you suddenly it makes sense.
Well, that’s what it’s like with a mentor that can show you how things are done. If you find the right mentor you’re gonna cut out – you can cut out two or three or four years of wasted useless mistakes of not developing what you’re weakest at, et cetera. So the whole key is how do you find this right mentor. And in the book I give you plenty of examples and advice on that front. The main thing is the mentor is almost like a second parent – a father or mother figure. There’s somebody that you could imagine in 20 years you would like to be like them. Maybe not doing the exact same thing but you share their spirit.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock
What do we see from watching birds move across the country?
- A total of eight billion birds migrate across the U.S. in the fall.
- The birds who migrate to the tropics fair better than the birds who winter in the U.S.
- Conservationists can arguably use these numbers to encourage the development of better habitats in the U.S., especially if temperatures begin to vary in the south.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.