The POWER of a Mentor
The word alone might sound alien to many of you, M-E-N-T-O-R. Before I had one I thought people who had mentors shaved their heads, changed their names, put on yellow robes with red belts, learned an ancient form of Martial Arts, and moved to the mountains of Asia. Seriously (Almost). That all changed a few years ago when I had the privilege of falling under the tutelage of a highly successful entrepreneur.
When I was on the brink of complete burn-out in life I met a man who by divine providence changed the course of my life, my family's life, and many other lives forever. I began meeting with him, listening to him, learning from him, and following him. Why? Well, I knew I had come to a point in my life which I did not intentionally plan on coming to. But I did "plan" on it, as the saying goes, "failing to plan is planning to fail." I had done virtually NOTHING on purpose up to that point in my life.
I was about as self-destructive as one can get and still somewhat hold it together. And I use the word "together" very loosely. That ALL changed when I received some NEW INFORMATION.
After modeling after my mentor for some time, (I took 10 years to screw everything up, it took more than a couple weeks to repair) I began to see some of his type of results show up in my life and eventually in my driveway! If nothing else, in the beginning, I was learning to THINK like those who call their own shots in life, the wealthy. I don't mean the elitists, I simply mean those who have the time, money, and results in life that match their definition of success.
Almost instantly I experienced improvements in my top priorities in life-The 5 F's: Faith, Family, Friends, Finances, and Fitness.
We've all heard that the best way to learn is by experience. Well, wouldn't you agree that if we can learn by other peoples' experience that's even better?! How can you know whether a person's experience is worthy for you to follow after? Well, it's all about the fruit on the tree. If someone is at a high level in any arena, it's a guaranteed they've struggled, probably more than you could imagine. The great news about that is they know how to get through those struggles and win. They're finishers. Anyone can start anything. Very few are willing to do what it takes to finish. If you find someone like this, grab on and learn.
Another great value which coincides with Experience is the wisdom and insight one gains from having made it to the "other side" of struggle which is victory. An analogy I love that is not mine is if someone has made it across a mine field and they have all parts still attached that person has knowledge to offer. Most of us see that figurative scenario in life and choose to go on our own way anyway, thinking we know better. This was me too many times to mention. By following someone through that "mine field" we can save lots of time, money, heartache, etc.
A cautionary note: All the experience in the world is nothing if the person doesn't have character. Do they do what they say? Does their walk match their talk? What are their relationships like? How do they treat their spouse, kids, co-workers, and so on. More so, how do they treat the proverbial "little guy"?
Find an upstanding person with a bunch of great experience which lines up with your values and aspirations and you have the makings of a wonderful mentor. BUT, that's not all.
This is where a major piece of motivation comes in. More often than not, left to ourselves, we will not accomplish nearly as much as we would with someone next to us, challenging and cheering us on. I know, you're probably saying, "I don't need motivation." Well, that's interesting, let's examine that. The last time I checked OLYMPIC ATHLETES need motivation. And statistically speaking, odds are you are not quite an Olympic athlete, neither am I. They probably have the highest level of internal motivation and discipline in the world and they still need coaches and cheerleaders. So let's not use that one.
A good mentor will buy NONE of your "logical" excuses. This isn't because your obstacles to success aren't real, it's because they know, by experience, you can conquer them. He/she will help you develop a game plan that will stretch you and force you to grow. Often times, through the relationship forged in this process you will meet these challenges simply to prove to yourself and show your mentor you CAN. I could go on and on about the value of a challenging environment, but for the sake of HUB-nation I won't.
I saved what I believe to be the most important piece for last. I cannot overstate the importance of this. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it right, “Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”
Most people, including myself, grow up in a harsh and condemning world without a consistent, positive, affirming voice telling us we can accomplish greatness. Actually, we're told we can be anything we want to be until somewhere around junior high. At that point, we're told to get our heads out of the clouds and to stop fantasizing. Well, I speak from personal experience, my mentor is that affirming voice. He does not whisper blind positivity in my ears and he does not ignore issues. But, he does pour belief into me and I've benefited greatly in real ways from it.
There are going to be times in life when you will be kicked in the teeth per se. If you're an adult it's probably already happened. There is nothing quite like knowing you have someone no further than a phone to reach their hand down to grab your out-reached hand and pull you up. It's okay to have that kind of help in life. As a matter of fact, those who have been beneficiaries of this kind of love are much better of than those without it. Try it.
I hope the insight I've offered here is helpful in YOUR life. I encourage you to seek out someone who has or embodies the principles and life you espouse to. If you are on top of your game, I encourage you to pay it forward and help a hungry student that could benefit from your wisdom. If you are actively involved in a mentor/mentoree relationship you know the gift you have. If you have been in the past I hope this Hub rekindles that fire and you pursue it again. We never "arrive" and once we're done growing we're ripe, then comes rotten.
"You don't know what you don't know and what you don't know is keeping you broke!"
This Hub is dedicated to all Mentors out there, thanks for all you do!