While I believe it is important to have a mentor (and sometimes more than one) who knows you and is available to help you grow over time, there are certain mentors who stick around just long enough to deliver a single lesson or message. And these mentors should be acknowledged.
The one shot mentor, for me, is often someone who enters my life, irritates, infuriates, challenges or pushes me to my limit in some way. The coworker whose very voice sets your mind on fire. The driver who cuts you off on the highway. I’m sure you can think of other examples!
The trick is learning to recognize the difference between a mentor and someone who is just playing through.
I was struggling with a particularly challenging coworker when one of my long time mentors looked at me and told me that this was really just an opportunity to practice patience. When I looked at the situation from that new perspective, I realized that I did indeed need to work on my patience and this person was the perfect choice to help me. As I accepted this opportunity and worked through it, this person slowly moved out of my work life. The result? I not only developed more patience, but also a experienced gratitude towards someone who once frustrated me to no end. How unexpected!
Take a moment to review your own challenges. Next, review some of the people or situations currently in your life that feel like they are utterly irritating yet potentially useful in your own growth. Find one or two?
If so, grab on. Open yourself to the gift in this experience and as you do, save space and energy for gratitude towards your unexpected mentor.
As I travel this path, I have found that these one-off mentors are typically horribly irritating because they’re a direct reflection of me. I’ve also found that I’m most grateful when they’re ready to leave me because I’ve grown in some way that I either did not expect or had resisted but needed.