The difference between who you are today and who you will be in five years is…

After a recent evening spent with my friend and mentor, I began reflecting on something I once read by Michael Hyatt: “You are the same today as you’ll be in five years except for two things: the books you read and the people you meet.”

It’s obvious that what we put into our minds is what will eventually come out, so the principle that reading books will shape who we become is a solid one by which to live.  It’s the reason I love to read my Bible, as well as great books on leadership and personal development by people more successful and more experienced than I.  If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon of reading books on a regular basis, it would be wise to consider doing so, whether it’s books from the library or audio books from audible.com.  Both avenues will enrich who you become, especially if you select books that speak to the goals you’ve set for yourself.

The second part of Hyatt’s statement regarding the people we meet is a little too vague for me.  If I were in Hyatt’s position, I would have included the following nuance “the people we spend time with”.  It’s not that meeting people and having a short exchange doesn’t affect who we are; however, the people we spend time with are the ones who truly shape who we become.

During our recent relocation to the Midwest, one of my goals was to find 4-5 men who I could spend regular time with to discuss life, family, work, ministry, struggles, victories, plans and anything else that came up.  I’ve had the opportunity in the past to have a couple of mentors in my life who have helped me grow as a follower of Jesus, as a husband, as a dad & as a worker, as well as help me navigate the rapids that inevitably come up around the twists and turns of life.  Through their guidance, I became convinced that building a team would be the best way to move forward on the path of progress.

In less than six months, I have built a team of mentors that I am so excited to spend time with over the course of the next year, and here are four tips to help you do the same:

  1. Value diversity.  It is important to have mentors who are not only older, but who represent multiple generations and multiple personality types.  I am 37 years old, and my mentors range from mid-40s to mid-60s in order to fully understand and navigate the next 20-30 years of my life.  I also have mentors who are very different than I, from the types of jobs they have to the types personalities they possess.  It’s good to hear from an introvert, since I am an extrovert, etc.  It allows me to see situations from multiple and, more importantly, beneficial perspectives.
  2. Select wisely.  It is important to find people who you respect, who have experienced success in the areas you’re seeking advice and who have a teacher mentality.  Those three qualities make for a great mentor and someone you are willing to let influence your life.  In short, don’t take financial advice from someone who is broke.  Also, to maintain the perception and reality of purity, it would be wise to choose those of the same gender as you, regardless of your relationship status.  Most importantly, politely ask those on your list if they would be willing to be your mentor.  Some may say no, and that’s okay.  They might be available during a future season of life.
  3. Meet regularly.  If you are going to have more than one mentor, which I recommend, it’s important to be organized in scheduling your meetings and making them a priority, and getting together once a month or once a quarter is sufficient.  You don’t have to meet every week, and if you have a family and a job, more than once a month may be difficult or impossible to maintain.
  4. Speak intentionally.  Don’t just ramble when you meet.  Set measurable objectives for your time together, share those with your mentor and be sure to discuss regularly.  Mentorship won’t have the maximum benefit if you’re just catching up and shooting the breeze.  Value your mentors’ time and your time by having an agenda, even if it’s only written on a napkin

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