I’ve been on a search for a mentor. It’s not as easy as you might think. The person is going to have to be willing to give up some time, some valuable advice, they’re going to have to be willing to invest in me. The payment they receive will not be monetary. In this day and age everyone wants to get paid. Including me. This has challenged my thinking. I believe you get back what you put in. And that means, I also must put in.
I’ve often thought about what I have to offer someone else. What are the talents, skills, and gifts I have? What can I teach someone? What am I good at? What am I an expert in?
The quick and discouraging answer is: nothing. I’m not an expert in my career field. I haven’t studied music or devoted my life to the study of quantum physics. I don’t have a PhD. In fact I’m just an average Joe.
While wallowing in disappointing self-inventory, I had an epiphany. I’ve been through some things! My life has been messy and difficult. I’ve made bad decisions, I’ve failed at things, I’ve hurt people, I’ve been hurt by people. I’ve learned some amazing life lessons. If I was educated in anything it was the old cliché school of hard knocks.
This epiphany struck while I was reading a parable. It was about a business man who gave some servants money to manage. A few of the servants took risks and made more money for their master. However, one kept the money for fear he would lose it. This angered the master because he did nothing productive with it. The currency they described as “talents”. Maybe you see where I’m going with this? When I saw “talent” I immediately thought of modern day definitions. I thought of Talent defined as a skill or gift that an individual may have. Think about your own talents. What if you used those talents to invest? What if you used them to create a greater return? What if you used your talents to help others develop theirs? Are you investing your talent mentoring someone else who has potential in the same area you’re gifted in? Maybe your talent is just encouraging others who are going through something you’ve been through and overcame. Were you a teen who got pregnant young? Were you once addicted to a substance and are now recovered? Did your parents divorce, did you lose a child, have you succeeded in business, have you failed at something? Whatever we’ve been through, can be shared with another going through it.
Encourage them, help them succeed, empower someone to be better.
Our talents, I believe, were given to us are not for our own monetary gain but for investing. When you invest in others, you invest in yourself as well. You gain empowerment, confidence, and a sense of personal achievement. When it comes from our own desire, It just feels good to help someone. We don’t need scientific evidence to know this. We don’t need studies or an article in The American Journal of Medicine to know helping others feels good.
So the question is, why don’t more people do it?
Again, I reflect back on another reading. This time the term “rabble” is used to describe a group of people that were traveling along. Rabble is defined in the Merriam-Webster as a crowd that is noisy and hard to control, a group of people looked down upon as ignorant and hard to handle. Synonyms for the word include lowlife, gang, horde. However you look at it, these people were full of drama.
The interesting part is that the larger group they were traveling with were not part of the rabble. They managed themselves in a way that made a distinction between themselves and the rabblers.
Why would they tolerate this rabble of strangers traveling with them? Why do we? I think the rabble offered opportunities to grow, opportunities to use their talents. If everyone had the same thoughts and skills we’d never get the blessing of a fresh perspective, a new idea, an innovative product, or chance to use our talents. I think the rabble reminds us that our talents are best, invested. It’s up to us to create value. A parents divorce, an addiction, a painful past, a humiliating moment are all areas we would rather forget, but some of life’s most valuable lessons are found in them. We could be so ensconced in our own suffering and desire to survive that we don’t notice the value in the suffering. Or we can look around, find the opportunity to use our talents and the value in the rabble.