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Why You Need a Mentor – Even If It’s Someone You’ve Never Met

How one note from a mentor I’ve never met changed my life.

When I was a 19-year-old, full-time church service missionary, I was living in a place where I was a complete stranger.  I was fulfilling a lifelong calling to teach others about the gospel message that had stirred a deep conviction in my soul and brought me nearer to God.  But missionary service wasn’t easy.

I was over a thousand miles away from my family and friends, and had minimal contact with them.  In fact, the fastest way to communicate in my situation was through snail mail. 

I was met daily with rejection of the message that I shared with the intent to bless the lives of others. 

I worked with other missionaries – one of which was my “senior companion.”  We were supposed to be working together to spread the gospel, and to some extent we were – but to a greater extent this other missionary was controlling, hypocritical, and unwilling to listen to my ideas. 

I felt helpless, powerless, unappreciated, and unfulfilled. 

Though I read scripture, reflected, and prayed on a daily basis, elevating my spirituality and drawing me nearer to God, I was allowing outside circumstances to hinder this spiritual development to change my life on a deeper level.

A Letter from a Mentor

It was at this crucial moment during my mission that I received a letter from my family.

They had been to a retreat for my sister’s high school girls’ soccer team where they were taught by Larry Gelwix, the legendary coach of the Highland High School Rugby team and key character in the movie “Forever Strong” – one of my favorite and most inspiring movies.

The letter included a note from Gelwix.  When my parents mentioned I was serving a mission, told him I was a big fan, and wondered if they could have an autograph to send to me, he said, “Yes, and I’ll write a personal note to him as well.”

The words he wrote were life-changing: “Always, always, always do your best and be your best.  Life and your mission are too short to be mediocre”.  I would read these words while walking alongside a country road in Arkansas and think about them for hours, full of inspiration, insight, and motivation to achieve my potential. 

This advice altered the course of my mission and my life – I knew that I didn’t want to feel the pain of regret, and that physical pain or discomfort is only temporary – and often necessary to overcome mediocrity.

I had always been a high achiever, but the words of Larry Gelwix in that crucial moment sunk deep and motivated me to become even better and fulfill my potential.

Mentors Today are Everywhere

Today, there countless mentors dedicated to people achieving their best.  I’ve had several key mentors in my personal, professional, and religious circles that I have sought and allowed to shape my life and grow my character.  

I also draw inspiration from lots of high-quality personal development content online.  This is a great way to have a “mentor” right away.  Here are some of my favorites:

Lewis Howes’ The School of Greatness is a podcast that I listen to frequently and gain valuable insights about how to “dream bigger, live better, and make an impact.”

Hal Elrod’s book, The Miracle Morning, is all about becoming the best version of yourself to achieve levels of success in every area of your life that you’ve always dreamed of. 

Joel Runyon’s Impossible brand is dedicated to helping “high performance humans” take massive action to fulfill their potential and do the impossible.

Conclusion

There will always be mentors we can seek out that will help make us our best selves. 

Maybe you’re at a point in your life where you feel helpless, powerless, unappreciated, or unfulfilled. 

Often, it takes perspective from others to unlock the potential inside of ourselves.

I urge you to seek out a mentor – whether it’s someone that teaches from afar via a book, blog, or podcast, or a real-time virtual or in-person coach – who can elevate your thinking and help mold you into the person you want to be. 

I know that simple, powerful note from Larry Gelwix made all the difference for me. 

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