Growth is a product of cultivation. Personal growth is your stake in the game of life. As Churchill once said, “It is often darkest before light.” The space between dark and light, the shadows of uncertainty and the beacon of awareness, disguise or reveal the character and nature of the person. Others can point the way, but only you can illuminate and navigate the path. Sometimes obstacles seem insurmountable, the challenge not worth the risk. Only you can decide whether the pursuit is worthy of the reward, and only you can begin to chip away at the impediments to your forward progress.
The space between dark and light, the shadows of uncertainty and the beacon of awareness, disguise or reveal the character and nature of the person.
Every day, I attempt to provide mentorship to those who deem me a worthy “whetstone”. A whetstone is a hard-surfaced, fine-grained stone used for sharpening cutting tools. As a mentor, your mission is to sharpen the skills and provide an environment for growth that enables the mentee to harvest and wield the power of both. It is incumbent upon the student to derive benefit from the environment by living the lessons of the teaching.
Mentors can’t provide the batteries or the flashlight. The student must summon the willpower to do the work in the dark, empowered by the belief that the light is one push, one rejection, one denial away from illumination. Illumination is knowledge, understanding, acceptance and, through time and experience, perhaps expertise. You have the flashlight and the batteries. Enlightened mentors walk with you for part of the way. Breathe life into the lesson by summoning the courage, manifesting the conviction and cultivating the capability to walk forward without them. The most effective mentors are compelled by purpose. Their purpose is to extend their legacy by encouraging and teaching others to grow and develop theirs.
The student must summon the willpower to do the work in the dark, empowered by the belief that the light is one push, one rejection, one denial away from illumination.
Perhaps I speak for myself, but once you’re in it, invested and immersed in the development of people, you can’t surrender the mantel of responsibility or dim the light of obligation. During and at the end of each day, I am never more than a knock on the door, a phone call or email away. I guess you could say I derive my purpose through people. Or, to phrase it another way, I am in the power curve of productivity, and I would bounce off hotel walls out of sheer boredom if I didn’t think I was contributing, in some way, to the forward progress of people. Cue-up a drumroll… let’s finish with Jack London. I first tripped across it on a sidewalk on a vacation to Australia:
“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”
It may be dark in one part of the globe, but in another part – there is light.