The Gift of Mentorship

 

When you look back on your journey through life, who are the people that made a difference? Who are the people that helped you get to where you are today? I have no doubts that some people come to mind for you. It was Alex Haley who said, "Anytime you see a turtle on top of a fence post, you know he had some help." And if you talk to anyone who has been able to accomplish anything great in their lives, they will readily tell you they did not get there by themselves.

We were not designed to operate in isolation. We all need help. None of us arrive fully ready. We have to walk the journey to success alongside others - those who pour into us and those we pour into. Many times, the road to our hopes and dreams is not clear enough when we set out and as such, we need the counsel of others; someone who has been there before. However, one of the greatest impediments to embracing mentorship is pride. To accept that we need help from others requires some level of humility; a strong appreciation that we need another. I can humbly reveal that life's circumstances failed to give me the tools to appreciate the potential that I had. I needed others to help me see the greatness that I had within. So far, my mentors have given me the ability to see a much higher version of myself, and they consistently help me create a roadmap that drives the accomplishment of my dreams.

Do my mentors do the work for me? No. Do they always have all the answers? Not necessarily but they give me a much greater gift - the ability to think more than I speak. They teach me the value of solitude and how striving to find special times and spaces to think will be critical to any success I planned to achieve. As John C. Crosby said, "Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction." They asked me questions that guide and steer me in the right direction; questions that implored me to look within. I can bounce ideas off them and get their perspective on multiple ideas that I have.

The choice of embracing mentorship is highly dependent on how far we want to go. If you have an addiction to growth and want to continue to expand, do more, and accomplish more, I would implore you to consider mentorship as a strategy to help move you closer to your dreams. Great mentors, as they get to know you and listen to what you want to do with your life, can reveal to you all that is possible; showing you options that you never would have considered on your own. Even when they cannot help in a specific area, they can connect you with others in their network who can.

So, how do we choose a mentor? I will start by saying we will likely need more than one. It would be rare for one mentor to provide all the support we need in every area of our lives. For example, a mentor for health-related support may not be adequate for leadership support. We must always look to people who are ahead of us; people who are already where we would like to be. No one wants to follow mediocrity. A mentor must have something in their arsenal that we want to have. They have to be bigger than us. Recently, I was looking for a mentor who could maintain calmness amid chaos, a skill I knew I desperately needed. So, I kept searching until I found one.

One of my mentors, John Maxwell said, "Who you learn from is as important as what you learn." Choose your mentors with wisdom. Your future may depend on it. If you are wondering if I've ever met John C. Maxwell, the answer is no. I have never met him but I've read all he's ever published. Mentors do not have to be people we ultimately have a physical relationship with. They could be our favorite authors, leaders, or social activists. Our candidates for mentorship have to be people who can listen and ask great questions; questions that place us in an inquiry mode over our own lives.

I have experienced my mentors as gifts that keep on giving and when you find your own mentors, listen, pay attention and soak in as much information as you possibly can. Take notes and go back to your notes from time to time until everything that you heard becomes part and parcel of how you navigate through life. I encourage you to seek out mentors that can challenge you and disagree with you sometimes. Find mentors who can look you in the eye and tell you the truth; things you likely do not want to hear. Remember, great mentors have your best interest in mind so it doesn't matter how painful the truth revealed might be, know that it's providing you with information that has probably been left unacknowledged.

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