À La Carte Mentors

These are the times of abundant knowledge.

It used to be rather difficult for a person to seek guidance, or an apprenticeship under a scholar or a master. It was, and still is, a privilege to have someone provide you with a one-on-one time to pour wisdom and knowledge straight into your brain.

An apprenticeship is the epitome of education and provides the highest value that you can get. A master will guide their apprentice down the road to mastery providing invaluable shortcuts to common novice mistakes. It accelerates the acquisition of knowledge and skill considerably. Alas, not all of us are so lucky.

It’s rather a disadvantage in life if you have to learn everything on your own from point zero. Life in the twenty first century as we now know it is an enormous and fast growing accumulation of knowledge.

A person’s place in the world is very much determined by how much help they’ve gotten to catch up with the world. Well enough to be able to pull their own weight the rest of the way.

And you’ll have to go the rest of the way on your own. After a certain amount, all knowledge you acquire must be in accordance with your interests and responsibilities.

You go wherever your natural inclinations will take you and soon enough, something will click and an obsession will materialize. Then you suddenly find yourself with an unquenchable thirst to gain more knowledge and practice and invest a serious amount of time into something that you find exhilarating beyond measure.

And that’s when an idol will pop in your viewfinder. Someone who epitomizes all that you consider greatness in your field or discipline.

Now, here’s the conundrum. It is almost impossible to gain access. Sometimes, it’s simply because they’ve passed away. But most other times, it’s because of the ease of communication nowadays. People of stature are constantly flooded with requests, invitations, and mentorship seekers.

The only practical and democratic way to pursue your interests is to consume all the content available from books, interviews, podcasts, etc.

If your obsession runs deep enough, all of this will be effortless. It’ll actually feel like lots of fun. That’s the thing about finding your obsession, what you do, pursue, and consume will seem like a lot of work to anyone else on the outside.

Books are your best go to resource for knowledge. Find books written by the greats and consume it with abandon.

Books are a special type of creative work. It is the dense distillation of years of the author’s work, insight, and experience. Often enough you’ll find yourself gaining the wisdom of an entire lifetime in a number of hours. You’ll find books by your favorite authors, and about them. Read everything!

This is especially valuable for the books of those who have long left the world of the living and only their intellectual work is all that remains. But our contemporary intellectuals have another ace up their sleeve: Social media.

In the olden days, promoting books was an arduous task. There were newspapers and magazines where the publisher can run ads and an author can be interviewed to talk about the ideas in or their book. Also, there was a book reviews section in newspapers. A little later, radio came into the scene, then TV. But now, we have the internet, baby.

You can find plenty of content online that will feed all that you little heart desires. You can check out the book online, download a sample chapter, listen to the audiobook intro, and read reviews even before the release date of the book itself. You can also count on an endless number of interviews on YouTube and podcasts interviewing the author. A thousand content creator will review the book and a thousand other internet entrepreneurs will summarize the book for you.

That’s beside those authors, creators, artitsts, and intellectuals who are active on social media sharing their thoughts and insights daily.

It’s unbelievably easy to gain mastery in any discipline nowadays if you apply yourself and figure out a way to guard your attention against being hijacked by a thousand ads, games, and funny things to watch.

You can make a conscious decision to unfollow and block anything that doesn’t serve your purposes online. Don’t get sucked into useless political debates and outrage porn. Don’t follow gossip and news sites. You’ve already consumed more cute cat videos to last you a lifetime, enough of those. The opinions and updates on the lives of celebrities are worthless, keep all that shit to a minimum.

Stay focused and guard your time and attention by every means necessary. Your attention is the most sought-after commodity on the planet now. Disable notifications on your smartphone, while at it. Stop these annoying interruptions of your attention. Make it so that you will actually have to pick up the phone and check messages and updates manually.

You are entitled to your privacy. You are entitled to your time. Do not make it easy for others to take that away from you.

You provide value in the world by investing your time in the activities that allow you to do just that. You learn by investing time in your self-education. You gain mastery by investing your time in practicing your craft and doing the work. Corporations will give you as little money as possible for as much as possible of your time.

If you want to be great, it’s really easier than you think. There are no more gatekeepers. Knowledge is abundant, it’s the willingness to learn that is scarce.

There’s nothing literally more valuable as a commodity than knowledge.

There’s nothing more precious as a resource than time.

Use your most precious resource to gain the most valuable commodity. You can then use your knowledge to earn your freedom.

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