What Can a Mentor Do for You?


Tim Elmore identifies five specific ways in which the mentors in his life shaped his character through encouragement and thoughtful insights.

While on a trip recently, someone complimented me after I spoke. Affirmation is always nice to hear, but this time it sparked a conversation. My response to this guy was straight from the gut: “I have no excuses for not being good. If I’m not good, it’s my own fault!”

After we both laughed, I explained my comment. Over the years, I have had some of the greatest mentors anyone could ask for. My mother and father both modeled what life should look like: generous, wise, loving and thrifty. Shawn Mitchell took me under his wing when I was in high school and taught me how to find my calling; about living with passion and boldness. Michael Muccio became a mentor in college. He modeled a disciplined, intentional life for me. John Maxwell has been both an employer and mentor for me since 1983. He showed me what leadership, good attitudes, healthy relationships and strategic living looks like. Keith Drury has been a long-distance mentor for years, showing me how to find and give away wisdom and resources liberally. I can’t believe how much help others have offered to me.

Over the years, I have accumulated many other mentors, specialists who have taught me focus, people skills, communication, business skills and the like. I’m sure you can see why I feel so blessed and why I say: “If I don’t do well, it’s my own fault.

Along the way, however, I have tried to isolate exactly what made these mentors so valuable. I found a pattern. Each of them did something more than just encourage me. They showed me or shared with me five items:

Insights I didn’t know

Each of them taught me something I did not know before I met them. They gave me wisdom from their years when I was still young and inexperienced.

Blind spots I couldn’t see

Each mentor was objective enough to reveal some blind spots I had about my style, my personality or my weaknesses. My self-awareness went up.

Strengths I hadn’t developed

My mentors all showed me strengths inside of me that I was unaware of, or didn’t know how to capitalize on. They made a mediocre guy valuable.

Disciplines I couldn’t build

These mentors also helped me develop disciplines so that my best days could become my normal days. They enabled me to build habits that now serve me.

Potential I never understood

Finally, my mentors unveiled potential they saw that I couldn’t. Each showed me the God-given resources I had that added the greatest value to others.

Now, I want to turn around and offer these gifts to others. I only hope to give back a little of what’s been invested in me.

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