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There are times in your life when you come to the realization that you didn’t get to where you are by yourself. Somewhere along the way, someone reached out and gave you the impetus to set your feet on stable ground. Whether it was an encouraging word, a piece of advice (solicited or otherwise) or just a couple of dollars to fill your gas tank so that you would be able to make it to work. You can look back in time and pinpoint the exact time and place where your life begin to take shape and which path that you wanted to go.
There was someone who helped me at a time when I was just stuck in limbo. I hadn’t completely given up simply because I still had the desire to want something different. The problem was that I didn’t know what that was which made it impossible for me to go about getting it. The person who helped me was one of my brothers. He made me realize that I had to do more than just complain about my circumstances, I had to change them. I believe in some way, I thought the answers would come to me, not realizing that I had to go to it.
I think that is how we waste so much of our time on this earth thinking that mountains will be moved so that we can get closer to our dreams and goals. That is fantasy. The truth is that mountains only move when there is an avalanche. Instead, we should aspire to climb those mountains, to grab onto each jagged edge because each one that you hurdle gets you closer to the summit; closer to your goals. However, a lack of knowledge often leads to inaction.
You will never know how one word of encouragement could set someone on the right path to changing their lives for the better. My brother took the opportunity to challenge me as he witnessed my pitiful attempt at falling on the proverbial dagger of despair. In other words, he wasn’t buying it. He knew that I was capable and somewhere along the way, I’d forgotten that.
I had become adept at manufacturing reasons why it was impossible for me to achieve the things that I wanted out of life. The biggest favor that he did for me was to give me a swift kick in the pants and to tell me to snap out of it. He wasn’t going to accept excuses or allow me to take the easy way out.
To that end, I guess you can say that he was my mentor. At the time, I didn’t know that nor did I know that I needed one at the time. I just knew that I needed. Something. Mentoring will require some commitment of time. There are so many people out there….young and old who are reaching out for help.
Your involvement doesn’t have to be anything magnanimous….. sometimes, just being that shoulder or a sympathetic ear is enough to inspire and encourage someone who is desperately seeking direction from someone who has specific life experiences and is happy to freely share them.
I suspect that you can easily identify at least one person in your life who is seeking that hand up and the good news is that you will gain just as much from the experience. Reaching out and helping someone who has the mind to make that change enriches both the giver and the recipient. Notice that the person has to have the desire to change, truly, when the student is ready, the teacher will come. Whether it comes from a formal mentoring program like Big Brothers/Big Sisters or in the form of your random act of kindness, it matters.
Don’t discount your skills or gifts as being insignificant because everyone has something of value to offer. I volunteered for a women’s shelter for a couple of years, mostly because I could relate to the feeling of being trapped by circumstances. I wasn’t a therapist, but I had ears…..I could listen.
I could share my story of wandering aimlessly through life and show others that things could get better and more importantly, that they had made the first step. Sometimes, we just need to be reminded of how far we have come instead how far we have to go. Success comes in stages and each positive action gets us closer to our goals. So, go ahead and pay it forward and become the impetus that changes a life today.