Mentors. Everyone has a them; one, two, or even more. The real question is “Did you pick your Mentors?” A mentor is someone who is a few steps ahead of you in a direction of where you desire to go. You can be mentored in any area of your life, including personal growth, work, hobbies, relationships, or even a plan for your life. Great intentionality will bring great growth, as a purposeful investment in your life will surely pay off big in the end.
Michael Hyatt, in his new book Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want, encourages you to design a life with the end in mind, determining in advance the outcomes you desire and the path to get there. In this step-by-step guide, are proven principles that help readers create a simple but effective life plan so that they can get from where they are now to where they really want to be–in every area of life.
My wife Sarah and I just spent the weekend in Chicago for an exciting life event that brought together our family and friends in a very special way. In fact, much to our delight, our mentors came into to town to join us for the time of celebration. We have been building our relationship with this couple for the last thirteen years, and we have found it absolutely critical to have long lasting friendships with those who have walked ahead of us in the direction we desire to go. As noted, mentors can help you grow in any area of your life, and in this case, we are being mentored in the art of life.
After our mentors left town, we sat down on the couch and purposefully reflected on our time together. As a result, we came up with the following list of reasons why it is critical that we have long lasting friendships with those who have walked the path of life a few steps ahead. As you read this list, we hope that it will inspire you to initiate engaging a mentor or two in your own life.
I Used to be an Orange Girl: Lessons from a Weekend with our Mentors
- You never stop learning about your spouse. As we sat around the kitchen table in the third floor condo after dinner one evening, we began sharing stories of our children. This in turn led to stories of our own childhood, and our mentor couple joined in with stories of their own. At one point, the wife shared a story of how when she was in high school, she used to help out the high school wrestling team. To quote her exactly she said, “I used to be an orange girl.” The room erupted, we couldn’t stop laughing for a few different reasons but mainly because we hadn’t ever heard of a “wrestling orange girl” and the thought of our friend being one was hilarious. Then something almost unnoticeable happened, and I am so thankful I barely caught it. Her husband said, “We have been married for thirty years, and I never knew that about you.” We struck mentor gold. At this moment, I stopped the conversation to make sure I correctly heard what he was saying. Indeed, it was true, he was still learning new things about his spouse, even after thirty years of marriage.
- Laughter is medicine. As my wife and I sat on the couch reflecting about our time with our mentor couple, we both agreed that we felt very encouraged. It is so helpful to have people who we can process life with, especially when they can help us see situations from a different perspective. Often, we found ourselves laughing about subjects that previously were weighing heavy on our hearts. Unpacking life with those who desire to encourage you through the “stuff” can be remarkably uplifting. It is good to laugh, and laugh often, even about the facets of life that have been giving you a frown.
- Honest conversations are essential for growth. Our mentors have watched us “grow up” as a married couple, as parents, and in our careers. With that in mind, there is no “getting over on them” in any subject. In other words, they know who we are to the core, and we couldn’t fool them even if we tried. In fact, they have called us out on our shortcomings time and time again, just to make sure we aren’t trying to fool ourselves. Having people in our lives who aren’t afraid to have the hard conversations with us is an entity we can’t put a price tag on.
- Uninterrupted and focused time brings blessing. It is amazing how fast we can find ourselves running at times. Whether as parents we are seeking to Craft High-Quality, High Investment Time with our Children, or we are just trying to win in our careers, life can get complicated. Having time that is set aside to simply focus on relationships is so necessary. Unfortunately, we often don’t realize how much we need this quality time until we experience it, which is exactly why we need to proactively schedule consistent uninterrupted and focused time with mentors. We found that while we were with our mentors, because we made the decision to be fully present for this time, we were able to soak in a great deal of blessing. These blessings of friendship, relationship, growth, and progress could have easily have been missed if we would have approached the time with our mentors half-heartedly. I’m glad we were all in.
- When someone has gone before, they can show you the way. This point has pretty much been the theme of this entire piece, but we will state it bluntly here. Our mentors have lived life longer, been married longer, they have been parents longer, they have held careers longer, and they have survived it all… that’s right: longer. We have much to learn from those who have gone before us, and if we choose to take advantage of the relationship, we can grow exponentially from the experiences of others. Having a mentor is having someone who has already been there and can successfully show you the way. As my wife and I reflect, we are so thankful for the incredible mentors in our life, in fact, we have many of them!
We hope this encourages you to take advantage of the mentors in your life, and if you don’t have any, we encourage you to get involved in a mentoring relationship! If you are seeking an in depth look at the path your life is taking, check out Michael Hyatt’s new book Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want.
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22 (NIV)
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