Who is your Yoda?
What questions do you think Luke asked Yoda about his life and path?
How do I know I’m on the right track?
Who should I turn to for advice and guidance?
How do I know I can trust them?
How can I avoid kissing a sibling on the lips?
How many of these questions have you asked yourself in your life? For most of us, the first several questions on that list are very familiar (but hopefully not the last one…).
Like Luke’s Yoda, many great stories have a person (or green creature) who serves as a guide. The character’s job is to guide the hero so the hero can ultimately be successful. Even Donald Miller, in Story Brand, identifies the importance of a guide. So, how can you get your own guide and guarantee success? First, you need to know what you’re looking for.
What is a guide?
For the purpose of this blog, we’ll define a guide as any trusted source of wisdom and guidance (I apologize to my third grade teacher for using the word in the definition). For some, this person may be a mentor, a business coach, or a past boss. Others look for guidance through spiritual means or a particular belief system. So our first lesson is that a guide does not need to be a “who;” guidance may also come from a “what.” The key here is trust. Your guide does not tell you what to do or not do. Your guide is someone or something that you trust to share wisdom based on experience.
Why are guides so important?
Without a guide, you are literally lost. It is that simple. You might be wandering in the general direction you want to go, but without a guide, the path will lack clear direction and most likely purpose. A guide makes sure your purpose and your path align. They are not afraid to let you know when you are falling off course and will gladly hold you accountable as you course-correct.
Are business owners the only ones who need guides?
Absolutely not. For most of A Better Place Consulting’s clients and their teams, we include an awareness session where each member identifies who their guide is. Labeling and acknowledging that trusted source of wisdom is an exercise in self-awareness that, simply by doing it, levels up so many team members’ perspectives, helping them to clarify their path and purpose.
My grandfather, who was the CEO of a trucking company, used to say, “It’s lonely at the top.” He was an amazing human being, but I also know he had amazing people surrounding him, helping him grow and guiding him to build his company. He was never really alone. And neither are you. If you are feeling alone right now, a guide may be just what you need.
How do I find a guide?
Chances are pretty high you already have a guide in your life right now, whether in humxn or non-humxn form. If you can’t think of one, scroll back up, and review the answer to “What is a guide?” above. If you’re still feeling stuck, here are a few ideas to consider.
Many companies offer mentorship programs that pair individuals who have been in the company for several years with newer team members. Many professional associations also have people already in place, ready to serve as guides for those newer to the industry. If you don’t belong to a professional association, consider your own past. Your past teachers or coaches may be great sources of guidance, too, whether that’s a professor from college or even your third grade teacher (who you can’t stop thinking about because you broke the rule about using the word you are defining in the definition — Mrs. Levine, I’m really sorry!).
In short, when facing a difficult situation or choice, ask yourself who you have turned to previously. Then evaluate how that advice ended up impacting your life. Was that source or guide trustworthy? Also consider whether this person has the experience to position them as a good guide for the current chapter of your life. There are so many incredible guides out there, but if someone is a great guide for assimilating to life as an expat in China, and the current chapter of my life is about starting a business, that person is not going to be a fit. So, make sure the guide you choose matches the chapter you’re in.
Now that we’ve established what a guide is, why they are important (not just for high-level executives, but for us all), and how you can identify a guide for your life, the ball is in your court. What kind of guide will you seek?