man with headphones on MacBook mentor

Distant Mentoring: A Guide to Finding Your Life’s Teachers

By Crystal Hamilton

Disclosure: While all thoughts and opinions on this blog are my own, this post does contain affiliate links and any sales made through such links will earn me a small commission – at no extra cost for you. Keep in mind, the majority of links that I share are products that I have personally used myself. I’m simply sharing them in hopes that they benefit you on your journey as they have for me.  Thanks for supporting the brands that make my blog possible!

What is a Mentor Exactly?

We all have experienced times in our lives when we may require guidance and support. I know you’ve probably been here too. You can’t quite see where you’re going, or you don’t quite know what the destination is, and you just need someone to assist in this area of your life who has been there before- a mentor. A trusted source of wisdom who possesses a wealth of experience and knowledge.

A personal mentor offers encouragement and positivity in your life but will also be open and honest, and tell you the truth – no matter how pleasant or unpleasant. They will help you make sense of your failures and encourage you to find opportunities to learn and grow.

But, wait! Do you really need an in-person mentor in order to achieve success? You will hear many people make the argument that personal mentorship is a must in rising to the next level of your career, business, or life. But I’m not entirely sold on this notion. To this day, I have never had an official personal mentor.

The way I see it, a personal mentor is a luxury not a necessity. Sure, it’s great to have in-person access to a muse- who wouldn’t love to benefit from that kind of relationship. But what happens when you can’t find someone willing to mentor you? Or, you just simply don’t have access to anyone who has been where you’re trying to go. This is my story. Do you just throw in the towel, just say screw it, and give up all hope just because you don’t have access to a personal coach- absolutely not!

I once heard the prominent entrepreneurship guru Maria Forleo say everything is figureoutable, and I think she is unequivocally correct. Figure it Out! We live in an era where we have instant access to so many incredible learning resources thanks to technology. Let’s start using them.

The Benefits of Distance Mentoring

As a result of developing technology and communication tools available to us today, distance mentoring has become incredibly popular and easily accessible. Distance mentoring provides an opportunity to draw on national and global expertise, knowledge and wisdom. However, it is imperative to seek mentors that are in alignment with your specific life goals and intentions, in order for distance mentoring to be truly effective.

Self-Awareness is Key

To benefit most from effective distance mentoring, it is worth reflecting on your own strengths and weaknesses. Knowing yourself and reflecting on areas for development will allow you to understand and retain the wisdom and advice your mentors offer. You will then be in a position to incorporate this advice into your life to maximize your chances of reaching your true potential.

Meet the People Whom I’ve Never Met Who Have Deeply Impacted My Life

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah is one of my greatest distant mentors as I’m sure she is for millions of other people as well. I think her impact is so great because she means so many different things to so many people. For my life, there are a couple of areas in which she had great influence. In my personal growth journey, she provided inspiration on how to overcome dire circumstances (teen pregnancy, poverty, racism, and cultural self-limiting beliefs) to become her best self. I saw so much of myself in her story. I always knew from a young age that I would experience success on an astronomical level, however, it would not just be for the purpose of me and my family but to create change and transform the lives of other individuals, families, and communities around the world. She has been the greatest example of this to me. There are so many wealthy people who have no intention of using their success toward positive social impact, and I never fully understood that logic.

The Icon also had a significant influence on my spirituality. I have grown to accurately discern between religion and spirituality and the impact they both play in my life. What I observed within her was more than mere religion- it was spirituality. It wasn’t just a belief in God, but a belief in the power we have as individuals to control our own reality using the natural laws of the universe to co-create our lives with God. It was that revelation, that truly sparked my spiritual growth journey.

My Personal Growth Mentors

Judge Lynn Toler of Divorce Court

When you develop a keen awareness of yourself, you will be able to use the media as an educational tool as opposed to merely entertainment purposes. Judge Lynn Toler of Divorce Court made a huge impression on me. As a direct result of watching her on television, I learned many lessons on how to excel as a woman, wife, and mother. Her willingness to share her own personal experiences to highlight the severity of mental health, helped me immensely while trying to navigate the challenges of comforting close relatives dealing with depression.

By candidly talking about her own battle with mental health and that of her father, she helped remove much of the mystery I held surrounding depression and mental illness. She provided practical support, in the form of effective strategies to use when caring for with someone with depression. These useful strategies included appropriate language to use and danger signs to be aware of.

The wisdom from Judge Lynn Toler via her television show Divorce Court, online videos, and books- My Mother’s Rules and Making Marriage Work, gave me the support I needed and the strength to make my marriage work during the hard times. She advocates that proper communication within marriage is essential to prevent misunderstandings. Using her as a mentor, I gained the necessary skills to confidently address the importance of relationship building with my children. I also felt more confident in tackling the difficult issue of domestic violence awareness with those within my circle as well. I believe that I matured as an adult tremendously, under the mentorship of Judge Lynn Toler.

Iyanla Vanzant

Iyanla is well known for her appearances on the legendary talk show the Oprah Winfrey Show and her very own powerful hit show, Iyanla Fix My Life. Her show, together with her online videos, speaking engagements, and excellent books have helped me to “Fix My Life”- or at least constantly improve it. She explored many aspects of her guest’s lives, that I have personally struggled with: the healing effect of forgiveness, the importance of self-care, setting time aside to discover oneself, family dysfunction and pathologies, setting boundaries, and negative self-talk. I feel that her shows and books have really allowed me to overcome these flaws and, as a result, begin to realize my true potential.

Iyanla was the very inspiration behind this blog. By using her tactic for “calling in the queen”, I have been able to create my very own Superhero Alter Ego, which allows me to draw on my own inner strength. She has truly been my distant life coach. Iyanla has a no-nonsense approach to healing others which has shown me that every single moment in my life is all a small step on the journey to becoming my greater self.

Napoleon Hill

The book Think and Grow Rich, perhaps the #1 best-selling self-help book of all time, was monumental in pivoting my mindset about life. Hill’s words taught me how to become success conscious- how to acquire the proper mindset to attract my perfect life and apply his principles to improving my chances of true prosperity. Napoleon Hill tells us that thoughts can be transmuted into physical reality. What first only happens in our imagination can one day become real in the physical world with a little belief, effort, guidance, and direction.

Robert Greene

International Best Selling author Robert Greene was every bit of the key transformational factor in my life after I turned 30. My greatest lesson learned from Greene was the art of mastery: mastery of self, mastery of life, and mastery of other people (all of which are all still a work in progress).

Greene’s books Mastery, Laws of Human Nature, and the 50th Law, serve as my personal handbooks for strategies and tactics for sculpting my mind and life in the pursuit of mastery to become the best at my craft, enhancing social and emotional intelligence by understanding people’s drives and motivations, and recognizing the power we have to control our mindset by conquering fear and anxiety when dealing with difficult life situations.  

My Financial Growth Mentor

Dave Ramsey

As controversial as Dave Ramsey may seem to some, many of his principles provided me with enormous insight on how to change my negative relationship with money and began to attract wealth with a new attitude and perspective. Many of the cultural norms regarding finance that I was taught since birth have kept me and my family living paycheck to paycheck for decades. His lessons (baby steps) for saving, investing, eliminating debt, and increasing income have changed my life.

His youtube channel, The Dave Ramsey Show, provides so much relevant content to those seeking financial independence. Listening to the thousands of people, from all walks of life, request help with their financial messes (hot messes!) proves to be extremely educational and liberating. Ramsey’s call-ins will have you feeling every emotion you can think of: bothered (for people who call in with only $1,000 in debt like their life is over- girl bye!), happiness (for people who call in defeated but end the call with hope and a plan of action to improve their lives), humor (for people who live ridiculously beyond their means and don’t have any plans of changing their Keeping up with the Joneses a.k.a. Kardashians lifestyle) and empowered (for people who followed the Dave Ramsey program and get to make their “I’m debt free” scream who don’t owe anybody a damn thing).

You can learn an enormous amount of information just from listening to other people’s mistakes and the advice that Dave Ramsey offers to each of their specific circumstances.

My Spiritual Growth Mentors

Pastors Joel Osteen, TD Jakes, RC Blakes, and John Gray

Joel Osteen, TD Jakes, RC Blakes, and John Gray have all played significant roles in my maturing my spiritual growth. Growing up in the church, when I became an adult sometimes I felt as if many of the sermons I heard preached (no matter the pastor) were becoming a bit redundant. I felt as if most preachers in my circle were speaking about things that didn’t really have a practical basis to them. How do I relate these teachings to my personal life? And the reading bible is easier said than done. Sometimes you can get lost in the numerous translations of what the bible is actually trying to convey. These pastors help bridge the gap for me. Their online content and books (Soar, Your Best Life Now, Queenology, I am Number Eight) made it easier for me to understand how my life, marriage, raising kids, family dynamics, and reaching my destiny fit into my religion. They gave me clarity.

Dr. Michael Beckwith

Michael Beckwith helped me see how I could use the laws of the universe to carve out the life that God intended me to have. This built on my personal spiritual journey which began under Oprah’s mentoring. Now, I felt that my spirituality was developing a depth and power that I had never experienced before. Michael Beckwith’s stages for spiritual growth gave me the tools to start progressing toward reaching my true authentic power.

My Professional Growth Mentors

Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk has provided me with specific tools and strategies for building a sustainable business. He has tons of online content for me to follow and study to apply to my personal business development. Branding, social media marketing, content creation, building a community, and siphoning attention are among a few of the skills I have consumed from his body of work: YouTube channels, books, podcasts, keynote speechs etc.

There is no secret that Gary Vee’s outspoken in your face approach to delivering content has been known to rub people the wrong way, but I’ve come to appreciate his style of “mentoring”. I think we all often need someone like this in our lives who will not tippy toe around the facts. Just give it to you raw and real- that uncomfortable gut punch or chin check to get your attention. He is definitely one of my main go to’s if I want the uncut raw truth about my direction in my business. 

Les Brown and Dr. Eric Thomas (E.T.)

Similar to Gary Vee, I also use these individuals to hit me with the real deal from time to time. They taught me that my passion is profitable and that my dreams are possible. These amazing individuals have provided direction for my aspirations of global influence and speaking potential too. They offer wisdom through their personal challenges to let you know that success is not a straight shot. There will be failures and detours along the way, but they encourage me to keep going at every turn. They are teaching me how to become immensely valuable, dominate, and truly make a difference with my dream and life’s purpose!

The content I mostly absorb from Les Brown and E.T. are online via YouTube videos. There is a multitude of videos on them both- they are incredibly popular in the world of motivation. They can be found on their own channels or the hundreds of other YouTube channels that feature them.

My Activism Mentor

Angela Davis

Growing up, I was always impressed by Angela Davis and her courageous political activism. I now admire her as a world-class author and collegiate educator. Her quest to fight injustice unleashed the inner activist/ social justice warrior within me when I was a child, and that is still a huge part of my character makeup today.

Under Angela’s mentorship, I realized that for change to happen, we need to take risks. If we truly want society to change for the better, we need to recognize the need to build a diverse community. Change only happens outside of our comfort zones, and to always be the whole you- true and authentic. Most of all, she taught me how to care about the issues that really matter.

The Wrap Up

Depending on your distant mentor, there may be training courses, books (audiobooks), event workshops, webinars, online videos or television shows available for you to help discern the appropriate path towards fulfillment of your ultimate goals in life. My distant mentors have guided and supported me immeasurably, and for that I am eternally grateful. My hope is to one day meet each of them with the intention to serve them in some capacity to show gratitude for the wisdom they have shared that allowed me to reach every bit of my true potential.

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