Recently, I heard a story of a man who was driving in the middle of a downpour. The rain came down in sheets and visibility was terrible. The man was unsure if he should stop or keep going. Suddenly he spotted a set of tail-lights ahead of him and decided he’d simply follow them. They seemed to be going in the right direction, and it was a big comfort to know there was another person on the same journey.
He followed those tail-lights for what seemed like miles, until they suddenly stopped in the middle of the road. The man sat there, his windshield wipers pushing water aside furiously, wondering if the car had encountered a problem or hit an animal. Then, instead of moving again, the car’s taillights disappeared. Frustrated, the man began cursing to himself about the idiot in front of him who obviously didn’t care about those behind. About that time, someone knocked on the man’s car window.
He rolled the window down in the pouring rain to encounter a woman.
“What’s your problem?” the man asked.
“I was going to ask you the same thing,” she said.
“Well, I’m not the idiot who stopped in the middle of the road and turned off her lights,” the man snapped back.
“No,” the woman replied, “but you are the idiot who’s parked in my driveway.”
I love that story because it illustrates two key principles.
- First, nobody wants to go through life alone: We all want to know that someone else is taking the journey with us, and we often prefer following someone who’s just a little ahead of us on that journey. Remember, the people you surround yourself with will determine the quality and direction of your life.
- Second, and most importantly, who we choose to follow is vitally important: Many of us end up like the man in the story – we simply follow the first person that seems to be heading in the same direction. However that can leave us looking pretty foolish. Remember, if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.
Mentors matter and having the right mentor matters even more. You see, the right mentor expands your vision. They help you see farther, and stretch your horizons. They help you see more by uncovering your blind spots. We all have them. In addition, they help you see clearly to discover your best path to success.
Personally I have chosen mentors at every step along my journey. Some intentional and some not intentional, they just happened. I can’t see it all, I can’t know it all – and neither can you. We all need someone to help us in our pursuit of intentional growth, and the right mentor helps you take massive leaps towards that goal. Throughout life, I have seen so many leaders in and out of baseball crash and burn because they did not have any systems built in their life to keep them accountable and develop personal growth.
Mentors do three things for you:
They know the way: They have insights and wisdom born from experience. There is no substitute for experience. They are a guide in life and leadership to help keep you on the right path.
They show the way: They generously apply their insight and wisdom to your specific situation. They direct, they point, they show you how and why you need to prioritize personal growth.
They go the way: They walk with you through your own journey and help you learn from your experiences. There is a great proverb that says “Two are better than one, because they get a good return for their work.”
We were all created to be in relationship with others. As a baseball coach or scout we all want others to think that we have it all together. The fact is, we don’t. We all need a partner, yes a mentor.
As a leader, if you do not have a mentor that you are meeting with on a regular basis and you allow that individual to pour in to your life for personal growth and accountability, then it is just a matter of time when the wheels of life will come unhinged. I encourage you to make finding the right mentor a priority. One that knows the way, shows the way and will go the way. You won’t regret it.
Have a great week!