There will be times you can't pay someone to care

I work with people looking for mentors.

In the beginning, when you are first learning, my advice is to assume nobody is coming. Sometimes, it is more useful to assume that it’s all up to you. This is not being negative. It’s about learning to manage the emotions that come up around early failure: frustration, boredom, depression. Self-management is an invaluable skill.

There may be times you will come out of tough, challenging situations requiring great reserves of strength, like when Aron Ralston got trapped in a remote canyon for five days. He had to cut off his own arm to escape because he knew nobody would rescue him. They made a movie about it called “127 Hours”. If he believed that someone would come, he would have just waited. But because he knew it was entirely up to him, he rescued himself.

When you assume nobody is going to help, you have to use all of your strength and resources. You don’t hesitate to experiment. You can’t wait, because there’s nobody to wait for. It keeps your focus on the things in your control — not outside circumstances. It’s productive pessimism.

Aron’s lesson of extreme independence also made him confront his hubris in going it alone. Knowing how to connect with others, be part of a group, and when to ask for help are equally important life skills. They force you to empathize and to learn through vulnerability. Strive to work with the best collaborators, stakeholders, leaders, etc.

But never count on their help. That’s the difference. Again, it’s about managing the tension of independence and interdependence.

Then, when someone does help you, you’ll be more focused with how you connect.