Choosing your mentors and advisors fundamentally shapes what kind of person you become and what your life looks like.

When I was little, I played piano.

I started out as a kind of party trick for my father.

He got a kick out of teaching me classical composers and their music.

He liked to play a game where he’d play a piece of music and I’d pull the correct composer out of a deck of info cards.

We have many photos where we’re either playing the piano together, or I’m sitting in his lap watching him play.

Eventually, that led to me taking lessons.

I kept up with that for a few years and got pretty good at the piano.

But then my teacher moved to another city and my mum scrambled to find me a new teacher.

She brought in teacher after teacher to our house and we’d sit at the piano she had ended up with post-divorce.

I turned down every single one of them.

My mum was baffled.

She couldn’t understand why I was so “picky”.

When I told her I didn’t want to play any more, she refused to listen; “We’ll try another teacher” was a common answer.

And try we did.

Several of them I refused to even meet, barricading myself in my room.

Some of them I started a lesson with, but walked off in the middle.

I was furious with my mum for not listening to me.

Because, to me, playing hadn’t just been about learning to play.

I loved my piano teacher and I enjoyed learning with her.

And my mum would tell me (and others) the story of How Her Stubborn Daughter Refused To Take A New Piano Teacher for years.

And at every retelling, I scowled at how she didn’t hear my voice in all of that at all.

All she heard was her own desire to play the piano, because she’d never had a chance as a child.

So, because she was providing me with that opportunity, I should have been grateful.

It wasn’t until many years later that she came up to me one day and said, “You remember when you refused to take one a new piano teacher after your old one moved away?”

I promptly rolled my eyes, but she went on.

“You kept saying they all felt wrong.”

I nodded. Of course I remembered.

She went on still, explaining that she’d gotten a feeling about a person she’d met the day before and had decided to not take classes with them because of that feeling.

So, over 20 years later, she finally caught on to what I’d meant when I was 6.

It matters who you listen to.

It matters who your teachers are.

Because teaching isn’t a one-way street.

Not only should you have a good teacher that is a wonderful pedagogue, you should also be able to learn from them and their way of teaching.

Because no one ever learned anything under duress and intense scrutiny (other than how to avoid situations like that in the future).

Not everyone gets along with everyone.

And that’s okay.

The world is big, and there are many teachers out there.

If one teacher or mentor or person isn’t clicking for you, look for another one, another source of information, another way of teaching.

And follow your gut feeling; when it feels good, when it feels easy, when it feels challenging in all the right ways, it’s the right match.

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