Take a few minutes and think. Think about someone who has impacted your life in a good way; someone who has invested in you and who saw something in you that you didn’t see in yourself; someone with whom you spent (or spend) a lot of time.
Now, think about the three most powerful things they’ve ever said to you.
Can you think of three?
How about one? Chances are, you might be able to think of at least one thing, but, if you’re like me, you might find it hard to believe, and quite surprising, that of all the time you spent with that person, the things they said aren’t the things that stick the most. So, what is it then that had such an impact?
Time. Love. Being intentional. Being present. Value.
“A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.” Bob Proctor
Today, I love to speak in front of people. Groups of people. In fact, sometimes I’m more comfortable speaking to large groups than I am speaking to individuals. Weird, right? It turns out that I love to speak. Now, this hasn’t always been the case in my life. I can remember a time when I was scared to death to speak in front of people. I shared the most common fear out there: public speaking. So, what changed?
I had a mentor.
My mentor was my youth pastor. I spent countless hours “hanging out” with him in his office or around my church. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I was drawn to him. I needed whatever it was that he saw in me, and I could tell that whatever it was that he saw was much more than I saw.
One day, on a Monday, he told me, “You’re going to speak on Wednesday.”
I immediately told him no, but there was no arguing. He simply responded, “You’ll be fine. You’re speaking Wednesday.” Wednesday was the main youth service. For someone in my shoes, it was the big time. I might as well have been asked to speak in front of thousands, even though the group was closer to 40 people. I was terrified. I prepared 10 pages of notes, studied for hours, got up to speak, and my whole message (all 10 pages of notes) was done in 10 minutes. I was sure I had bombed. “Oh well, I thought.” “At least I’ll never have to do that again. I’m obviously not cut out for it.” And that was that.
But something incredible happened. About a month later my mentor told me I was going to speak again.
“Huh? Didn’t you witness the debacle from a month ago?” I thought.
I tried to argue again, but it was useless. So I prepared again, this time with less notes. I was still terrified. I prayed for an hour before I spoke. When the time came, I spoke again, this time for astonishing 15 minutes…and something amazing happened. I lived. Not only that, but I kind of enjoyed it. Weird.
This happened many more times and I eventually grew to love it. Who knew I had a love for speaking? This passion I had was simply trapped behind a wall of fear. I needed someone to help me get past that fear, to step into my full potential. I needed a mentor.
Here’s the thing. I never received any tips on public speaking from my mentor. He didn’t give me a bunch of great words of wisdom or reel off famous quotes. He just believed in me…and he made sure I knew he did.
“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.” Robert Frost
To be a great mentor to someone, all you need to do is believe in them. Make them feel that they are extremely important (they are, after all). Don’t try to fill them with “do’s” and “don’ts”, or great life wisdom, or inspiring quotes. Find the potential in them, and then pull it out of them, hold it in front of them, and let them grab it. Most importantly, give them your most valuable resource: time. As David Pate, our most recent podcast guest, said, “Spend time with them doing what THEY love.” That’s a big one.
There is a shortage of this in the world today, but guess what? You can be a great mentor….and it’s not as difficult as you think.
“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” Steven Spielberg