What would Jesus do? This catchphrase blew up in popularity during my high school years. It wasn't uncommon to see the WWJD acronym on bracelets or tee-shirts as a reminder to ask the question. But no, this is not an article about religion. I'm using the WWJD as an example of the mental mentors strategy.
Mentors and coaches are an incredibly valuable part of life. They may not have or give us all the answers, but they can share invaluable wisdom through their own experiences and learnings. This wisdom can shave years of effort towards achieving a goal (such as career advancement) or avoiding pitfalls in life (such as a relationship breakup or financial bankruptcy).
Mentors are invaluable but not always available. Good mentors are in high demand and may already be fully booked with individuals and groups that they serve. This is where the mental mentors strategy can be an alternative or addition to a real live mentor.
It Starts With a Nudge
WWJD was a reminder throughout the day. It was an invitation to go inward and challenge your thinking. WWJD in this situation? How would they look at this problem?
Unfortunately, asking Jesus what to do was of little help to me in high school because I was an atheist. Still, I later learned a powerful variation of this that I've used throughout my life, and I wanted to share it with you.
Napoleon Hill (legendary author of Think and Grow Rich), suggested to all of his students that they assemble a dream team of mentors. He called this group his "Invisible Guides." Napoleon suggested picking the names of people you respect across all areas of life: health, spirituality, religion, career, finances, etc. If it was important to you, find a guide. And it doesn't matter how many you selected; having a diverse pool of experts to draw from was the key.
He'd then suggest that you check in with them regularly throughout the day. Faced with a decision? Go inward and talk to the guides. A big challenge? Go to the guides. Ask them questions. Pause. Listen for answers and suggestions. What would X do? What about Y's perspective? Ok, what does Z think about this?
Sounds woo-woo, I know, but this was almost 100 years before woo-woo was even a thing. It's actually a very sane way to creatively problem solve. By trying to mentally see a situation from the teachings and perspectives of others that you trust, you will undoubtedly come up with new solutions. This is particularly valuable for tricky problems where you feel stuck and out of options.
Is the idea of talking to an imaginary mentor in your head seems too far out there? Then consider this reframe. Every time we read a book, we remember passages that seem meaningful and that we want to apply to our lives. When you go inward and "ask" a mental mentor, you're effectively searching your memory web (kinda like Googling your brain) to retrieve those passages.
And that's just the recall aspect of it. When you go inward and "ask" multiple mentors, you're effectively making a mashup of their teachings. This may help you see new connections that you never considered before from just one viewpoint alone.
Ultimately, this results in real solutions from imaginary conversations. Give it an honest try, and I bet you'll start posting WWJD like reminders to keep the conversation going.
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About Rick Manelius
Quick Stats: CTO of Contact Mapping. Author of Winning the Lottery Within. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.