I’m gonna spit some truth at you. You may not agree and you may even be offended, but that’s ok. Sometimes our inability to be cut buffers the growth we could experience. Like the pruning of a plant, I want to offer you the same cruel luxury. The shears of truth.
You are not smart, strong, brave or creative enough to make it in this world alone.
I know, it hurts. But in the iconic words of Christ, “The truth shall set you free.”
My Encounter with Truth
It was my junior year of college when I was gutted allowing years of egotistical self-confidence to pour out of me. I had just written a 20-page paper on an analysis of some Old Testament Jewish traditions. My paper was filled with the fluffy pontificating of my 21-year-old self. Such magnificent smelly fluff I had written, I was sure my professor was going to commend me. The happenings that ensued were far from my self-percieved reality.
I entered my professors office to receive my paper and my stellar grade. He beckoned me to sit in the chair opposite himself. Sitting, I watched him put my paper down and remove his glasses. The words that released from his mouth were not the words of encouragement or were they expectant. He said, “Hunter, you’re an idiot. You talk and talk, but everyone has already said this stuff before. Stop thinking you’re so smart, there are much smarter people who have gone before you. Use them.” I was cut. I didn’t know what to say to such an accusation. I left his office, with my “C” paper, a head full of conflicting thoughts and a bewildered disposition.
Looking back I have come to the conclusion I don’t want to go through life a blinded imbecile. Only to wake up decades from now realizing all that self-empowerment propaganda was really just heaping piles of crap. Nor do I want you to experience the same. Save yourself the time and long-term disappointment. Now, prepare yourself to receive the simple truth my student debt afforded me:
You are most likely not as clever as you think.
Our Need for Wise Adventurers
You have gifts and skills. Your heart is hopefully laden with vision and passion. While those will get you far there will come a time when failure strikes when the weight of life slowly squeezes the passion out of your dreams. In those moments more than ever we could all use the whisperings of the battle-hardened veterans who have gone before us. I am talking about mentors.
A mentor is anyone who can help you take a step towards something based on their own journey and wisdom. You can find these relationships everywhere and in anyone. Whether a one-time encounter or a daily relationship with someone. These relationships ultimately help to propel us on a path towards our ultimate purpose and vision.
Whether you have a mentor or not. The truth is you could always have more.
Finding Your Next Mentor
1. Find one person who you think has something you don’t.
Think of one person who you think could offer advice to your life, passion, or struggles. It helps if you know them, but feel free to chase the stars. Just don’t get upset if they don’t respond and you get burned.
2. Think of one question.
With all the happenings in the world, we often don’t think people have time for us. The reality is that’s not far from the truth, but you should never say no for someone. This method will allow them to engage you on their own terms and time.
Think of one question you want to ask this person. It could be as generic, but gleaning as, “What’s one book you recommend I read?” Or you can make it specific to a real-life dilemma you need advice on. Now, Email them this question.
3. What to do with the answer?
When they respond to your question take the time to think on it. Let it teach and guide you. If you find yourself disagreeing remember to, “Eat the chicken and toss the bones.” As in, take what you want from what they offer. Try, read or implement what they shared with you. Remember they are the veterans.
4. Follow up
The most important piece of all of this is to follow up. Reply to them, thank them and share how their advice has bettered your life. This step is important because it will show the person you are committed and desire growth. This could ultimately lead you to a more consistent and engaged mentor.
I promise if you try this you will be surprised at the success and wisdom it yields. People are always looking for an opportunity to share what they have learned. We all want to make an impact in those around us and by partnering with those who have gone before us that want can become a reality.
That moment with my professor has never left me. The idea that there have been others who have gone before me. Who have forged a path and procured wisdom I have never tasted. This is not to say you shouldn’t dream dreams or run after greatness. Let this speak to the surging passion within you and allow you to harness it for the adventure ahead. Let this lead you to find others to encourage, cut and guide you. For a powerful steed is only as useful as the reins set upon it.