Rekindle Your Confidence and Creativity Through Self-Mentoring

by Alli Polin on July 9, 2013

looking back through self mentoring to move forward.jpg

If you’ve read my blog before, you know that I am an expat and I’ve been home for a vist back to the USA for the past few weeks.  I’ve been spending my time in NY Metro but strongly contemplated a day trip to Philadelphia to bring my children to visit my college campus.  I noticed something strange as I went thorough the pros and cons of a visit to my alma mater… I got butterflies when I thought about returning to the campus.

  • Would I recognize the campus?
  • Would I still be able to find my way around?
  • Would I be opening myself up to really seeing how much I’ve changed since leaving the university?

As an undergraduate, I applied for jobs through the Career Center and people in my classes would ask me why, as Sociology major, I thought I could get a competitive job in business?  My response was simple: “Because nobody ever told me that I couldn’t.”  I was filled with passion and belief that I could and would make a difference.  I landed that job and it was the first stop on my personal and professional journey.

Still, thinking about going back to my university brought up some questions for me:

  • Have I stopped believing anything is possible?
  • Are fear and judgment too present in my life?
  • How do I reclaim the confidence and creativity of my youth and marry it with my years of experience?

If you have similar questions, you may want to engage with your coach or mentor to discuss your fears, hopes and concerns.  Alternatively, self-mentoring offers both of us some best practices to turn within to find answers.  Grab your journal or just a quiet space for reflection and start with these four self-mentoring principles to reconnect with your passionate, can-do college self.  The trick is to be candid, honest, and vulnerable – there is nobody to impress with self-mentoring; it’s all you.

Be compassionate

We are often our own worst critics.  While we encourage and listen with kindness to others, we beat ourselves up for every misstep.  Stop now.

Listen to your future self

You are your future self and you can tap into your inner wisdom.  What would you tell a client, friend, child or college student?  Open your ears and heart to your own advice.

Mentoring is not a know-it-all talking to a know-nothing

Celebrate your experience and let go of your inner critic.  The passion pilot light is still burning; you just need to turn up the flame. (Click to Tweet) Ask yourself: What matters most?  Where are you focusing your time?  What needs to shift?

Learn from failure and success

Mentoring should help you to move forward, not re-create a play-by-play of the past. Be intentional and ask yourself, “What did I learn that I need to carry forward?” NOT “What mistakes did I make?” Don’t stop with the easy answers; go deep and discover new ah-has that will propel you into inspired action.

Self-mentoring can be powerful for learning and reflection but I also strongly encourage you to find a coach or mentor and be a mentor to others. The greatest gift we can give another on their road to success is our time.

What are your tips for self-mentoring and reflective learning? What have you learned from your mentors?

(Photo credit)

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Chrysta Bairre July 9, 2013 at 9:19 am

I love your suggestions for connecting with your self-mentor! After all, I never would have gotten where I am today if I didn’t believe my life could be better.

As a child I didn’t know how it could be better, or how to make that happen, nevertheless I was determined to seek out wisdom and knowledge and discover a better way of living than the way I was taught growing up.

At that point in my life, and I remember the exact moment I chose a better life, I believed anything was possible, and I embraced it. Life wasn’t smooth and easy from that point forward but little by little I was able to make positive changes in my health, my attitude, and my life. That is undoubtedly self-mentoring, and I’m grateful for your reminder to reconnect with that passion to pursue my best possible life!

Have a grateful day!



Alli Polin July 10, 2013 at 9:57 am

Chrysta – Belief in ourselves is incredibly important! It’s hard to break old self-defeating habits without trusting ourselves. How incredible that you remember the exat moment that you chose a better life. Thank you for sharing here that when we believe, we create our story!


Lolly Daskal July 9, 2013 at 9:30 am

Great post.

I truly like the sentence: Mentoring should help you to move forward, not re-create a play-by-play of the past

I agree with what you say, and I believe that the past is our teacher and we bring the lessons we have learned forward in our lives.

I truly appreciate in the authenticity and heart you bring to each post.
I recognize and appreciate your teachings.



Alli Polin July 10, 2013 at 10:16 am

Absolutely, Lolly – we should not ignore the past but learn from it to move forward as changed human beings. I’m so touched by your comment and sincerely appreciate connecting and learning with you. Thanks, Lolly


Allegra Sinclair July 9, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Hi Alli,
I had never heard of ‘self mentoring’ before but I love the concept! And you provided a great example of that as you gave us a glimpse into how you mentored yourself as you evaluated whether or not to share your alma mater with your children. It’s fascinating how a look at our past can so quickly transport us back to where we used to ‘live’. What advice did you give yourself–did you go to Philly? Have a powerful week, Allegra


Alli Polin July 10, 2013 at 10:21 am

Allegra, I didn’t make it to Philly after all! Our time here was so short but even though I didn’t physically get there, I did take a mental journey there. Just reflecting on the energy and perspective of my college years has shined a light on a feeling that I know I’m working to rekindle in my life.

Greatly appreciate your feedback, Allegra. We need to tap into our inner wisdom more often!




Karin Hurt July 10, 2013 at 7:22 am

We can be our best mentors, because we know ourselves so welll. I like the idea of visiting places of our past as triggers… taking the time to sit and feel in that context can be very powerful.


Alli Polin July 10, 2013 at 9:59 am

I agree, Karin – visiting places of our past triggers can be incredibly powerful! It’s crazy how quickly we zap back to the feelings that were so present for us but have the wisdom of our journey to help process and see things anew.


Jon Mertz July 10, 2013 at 7:29 am

It is interesting to walk around the campus of our youth. I think it is interesting to see how much we have changed, along with the campus and the way learning is done today. It is a self-reflective moment and also a moment of asking “am I adapting?” and “am I continuing to learn and grow?”

We need to grab those moments and see ourselves in a different perspective.

Hope your trip back is going well, Alli!


Alli Polin July 12, 2013 at 8:39 am

Jon, Those two questions are great. I’ve asked the second one a bunch but I believe that the first one should be asked more. “Am I adapting?” The world is changing and we need to change too. Thanks, Jon!


Terri Klass July 10, 2013 at 9:34 am

It is such a great idea for each of us to turn inwards sometimes and reflect on what lessons we can bring forward into our next steps of our journeys. I call this, “taking stock” and I have done this at different points in my career and life. Firstly, there is an element of gratitude- What have we accomplished that we should feel proud of? Secondly, it gives us an opportunity to fine tune our direction and what really matters to us an we march forward. Thanks Alli for sharing your joy and fears. I love to hear about your adventures and thoughts! Great post!


Alli Polin July 12, 2013 at 8:37 am

Terri- Thanks for sharing your process for “taking stock” Love the element of gratitude. I think it’s missing too often. We’re so quick to beat ourselves up for going off track and gratitude reminds us that there is learning and accomplishment in every journey.


Hoda Maalouf (@MaaHoda) July 10, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Dear Alli,
I have recently started self mentoring by revisiting some old memories while writing about them and learning from them.
I’m also getting some help from an online friend/mentor. He told me recently ” You are discovering something that allows you to blossom, that sets your heart on fire. It can be difficult to set healthy boundaries in this case”.
I’ve got no problems chasing my dreams Alli, at the contraries I need to set my boundaries because I don’t want to get burned in the process.

Beautiful Post Alli!



Alli Polin July 11, 2013 at 9:37 pm

Hoda, Writing is such a powerful way to not only remember our past but tap into our learning.

So interesting that you write about the need to set boundaries because you don’t want to get burned. How do you know where the boundary lies until you get close to the heat?

I sincerely admire you and appreciate every glimpse that you give us into your life.


Kelly Greene July 10, 2013 at 1:54 pm

I love this article. I wish I’d read it and had access to a mentor (self or otherwise) as a teen. Thank you for the great post.


Alli Polin July 11, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Thanks, Kelly! I wish I had a mentor when I was a teen too (so do my Mom and Dad) but I learned from my choices and I’m sure you did from yours too.


Alice Chan July 11, 2013 at 12:15 am

Alli, I can most certainly relate to what you said about being our own worst critic and the need to coach ourselves, if not from a mentor as well. As you know, I recently started a new job. What I realized last week, when I had some time off for July 4, was just how much pressure *I* was putting on myself right away to be contributing substantively during my first week on the job. Remembering to listen to our future self is also a great piece of advice. We indeed have all we need to know when we quiet our busy mind enough to listen. Thank you again for this post, Alli!


Alli Polin July 11, 2013 at 9:43 pm

I can totally relate! When I started a new job a few years ago, as a new leadership team, we pushed ourselves to immediately add value at a herculean level. We gave ourselves no room for a “learning curve” or to even truly build any relationships. Yes, the President needed us to turn around the division ASAP but several people on the leadership team burned out within months as we were climbing mountains, not strolling in the park. I think that all of us knew better and didn’t stop and listen long enough to ourselves to truly clear a path to long-term success with that organization. It’s great that you see how you’re putting the pressure on yourself too. Since you’re early on in your new organization, that awareness will undoubtedly come into play over the coming weeks and months!

Appreciate you, Alice!


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