I distinctly remember the sunrises during my senior year of high school. While my classmates were sleeping, I was on the roads racking up miles with my cross country team to avoid the Florida heat. We would hit the showers then shuffle off to class. At the time, I thought this was absolute torture. Getting up early in the morning was bad enough, but exercising on top of that?
That type of activity wouldn’t be anything new at Naperville High School in Naperville, IL. The school was profiled in the book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and The Brain. Naperville encourages students to attend physical education classes and offers early morning options so they can get a workout in before the first bell. As one would expect, the students have a lower obesity rate, but they’re also seeing benefits in the classroom.
To improve mental performance, many individuals, resort to hard work and repetition. In turns out, they might be missing out on one of the most powerful brain boosters in the world – exercise.
How many uses can you think of for a paperclip in three minutes?
If you’re average, you’ll probably be able to drum up 10 or perhaps 20 different uses. I came up with 11. The somewhat famous paperclip test was created in 1967 by J.P. Guilford as a measure of divergent thinking. It’s part of a group of assessments known as ‘alternative use tests’ which measure creativity.
The above example shows a common incomplete figure exercise. This test asks users to complete the picture in each window. This is another test of divergent thinking, the more creative you are the more interesting the results tend to be (see below).
If you didn’t come up with this given the start above, read on.
Creativity is often viewed as something you either have or you don’t. But that’s not entirely true, according to a study completed by Harvard, creativity is 85% a learned skill. That means we can improve. The question is how?
I’m constantly reading books, listening to podcasts, and attending conferences weeding through a tidal wave of information and applying specific lessons to what I’m working on.
In theory, I would refer to these individuals I’ve learned from as mentors, but the relationship doesn’t seem to fit the typical mold.
Mentorship implies some sort of contractual relationship. One individual is designated the mentor, tasked with providing innumerable bits of knowledge, while the other is the mentee—the fortunate recipient of this insight.
But these days that’s not how it goes.
“Asking someone to be a formal mentor is the absolute best way to never have a good mentor.”
– Tim Ferriss
So, if you’re not supposed to come out and ask, how does anyone ever get mentored? More importantly, how exactly do you ask for help? I dug through advice from experienced mentors and drew from a recent interaction I had with a mentor of mine to come up with some do’s and don’ts when looking for and building a relationship with a modern mentor.