Many people tell me they want to make a big difference in the world, but very few actually leave a legacy. There seems to be some sort of disconnect between wanting to change lives and a willingness to actually roll up your sleeves and jump in the muck and help somebody through it. What I mean is we have to care enough about someone to help them through struggles, by loving them unconditionally until they are ready to face truth and then when they are, lead them to it.
There are huge differences between writing an opinion online in a blog, being a motivational speaker and seeing somebody one time, coaching or therapizing someone by telling them what they are doing wrong and what they should be doing, versus actually caring enough to be somebody’s friend and to walk them through the steps over time to change their life for the better, on purpose. As well there are big differences between telling someone your opinion or a theory that you learned that you haven’t lived out in your own life successfully, coaching someone to do something you’ve seen work in others lives, maybe without being privy to all the details versus helping someone through something you have personally overcome.
The difference it would seem between wanting to be important and actually making a significant impact in someone’s life for the better is, intention. Are we doing it to feel good about ourselves or because we care more about them than we do about what we get out of it? Am I trying to be a “Big Shot” or serve them?
I’m always excited when someone wants to make a difference, when he or she wants to make a real impact. The confusion comes in understanding the dangers of coaching or mentoring someone when you don’t have a result in your own life that they can see as an example and not having developed the humility to get our own pride out of the way.
So how do we discern whether we should be someone’s encourager and sounding board or their counselor, offering truly correct advise?
1st – We must judge our own intentions!
Am I willing to be rejected while serving this person? Will I still be their friend if they don’t return friendship to me or listen to my advice? If they don’t change quickly enough will I become frustrated with them or give up on the process? Do I refer them to other people for counsel, encouragement and support? Am I reading, getting mentoring and trying to be better, so that I can serve them more effectively? Do I point out their gifts and abilities that exceed my own?
- Negative responses to any of these questions would tell me my intention (my heart) is not in the right place.
I’ve heard Orrin Woodward, world ranked leadership guru, say “if you don’t love someone, you can’t mentor them.” We cannot in good conscience counsel another if we don’t care about them and their future. This would be pretending we are God. It would be like experimenting on someone you don’t care about and if they died saying, “oh well, next.” And yet I’ve seen trained professionals do just that. We have to remember we are dealing with people’s live, relationships, livelihoods and futures. What we say to them can change everything. Will it be for the better or worse? Even well meaning is not enough.
2nd – We must ask ourselves what am I getting out of it and what do I have to offer?
Do I care about this person and their future? Do I hurt for them in what they are struggling with? Do I have results in the area that are working on? Do I have resources I can expose and refer them too? Can I give them grace for the things they have done to others or to me? Am I willing to learn, be wrong and apologize in this process.
- Negative answers to these questions would make me aware, I am not equipped to help them navigate through this struggle.
In DNA of Relationships, Gary Smalley talks about the difference between wanting to help someone and actually being their friend when they can’t return that same level of friendship. This is work, it’s many times messy and usually takes time.
3rd – Do I access a Mentor for outside perspective and insights?
If I’m not being mentored how can I really mentor someone else? I’ve heard best selling author Tim Marks say, “Judge a tree by the fruit it bears, not the fruit it talks about.” Meaning learn from someone with results. Without proven results to teach from it is easy to give advise without being able to give the correct thinking that goes with the actions. Everyone has opinions, that doesn’t make them correct. Learn to look for results in those you surround yourself with.
When I worked in the psych world I was amazed how many people confuse having a degree being licensed or even board-certified with competence. It doesn’t take a formal education to lead people, it takes a caring heart, a valuing of people, unconditional love and the courage to lead them to truth. Many people want to Learn, then teach, or just Teach what they think they know.
We Learn, then Do, then we can Teach!
There is no such thing as “efficient” in relationships. Care enough to pay the “Full Price” to have Great Relationships.
Invest Wisely – Chris Mattis