Episode 42: What Makes a Great Mentor?

Good morning! Here we are again this Monday morning. Ready to start off a week in the best of terms. One of the things that I always admire about starting on a Monday is an attitude of gratitude. And that leads in to my co-host. Man, I am honored to have today the co-host with the most, Lori Few. How are you Lori?

LF: I am great Jimmy. Good morning, everybody and welcome to the best first day of your life.

JW: Oh, I like that, you know what, anything is good as long as we’re above ground. You know, that’s my theory anyway.

LF: Exactly, yes.

JW: Hey, today it’s gonna be a special treat. You know, we’re starting out this year, we all have these, oh, I hate the word resolutions. I prefer the term goals, Lori, don’t you?

LF: I agree. Resolution is such a sticky, tricky, trippy, word.

JW: Yea, it is. And I will say at the end of the day, I don’t think resolutions have the weight that they should carry of importance. You know, too often we say, hey, it’s January One, I’m gonna lose 20 pounds. Guess what? Day three, we’ve already eaten that Big Mac, right?

LF: Yes, or a piece of chocolate cake.

JW: Now, we’re not saying, folks, if you’re listening, that there’s any problems with chocolate cake. Chocolate cake did nothing to anyone.

LF: That’s right.

JW: So what I did, is I sat down and I hoped you did from the last week’s episode. As I mentioned to you, start out some areas of your life that have importance to you, vocation, your spiritual life, your financial life, marital life, so forth. And write a goal for each of those 10 areas I mentioned. Well, I’ve got to tell you, I am honored that Lori’s here. Cause she’s going to tell us what her BHAG is for 2020.

LF: Excuse me?

JW: Ah, your BHAG.


JW: That’s B-H-A-G, that’s a big, hairy, audacious goal.

LF: Oh! Ok, I thought that was a new four letter word that I clearly missed somewhere along the way. BHAG. Big, hairy, audacious goal for 2020. For me is probably stepping out of my comfort zone. I feel like in the last several years I’ve become a creature of habit. I do the same routine everyday, I don’t like to take risks. So for 2020, my BHAG is gonna be, step outside of my comfort zone.

JW: Wow, that’s a pretty big one. And you know, for those of you that don’t know Lori personally, she is really not in a comfort zone. This lady kills it everytime she goes anywhere. She sings, she can speak, she does it all. But the point I understand she’s making is to come out of that comfort zone, and Lori, you’ve heard me say before that I think we need to get comfortable at being discomforted.

LF: Yes, absolutely. And I, that’s exactly what I want to do. I feel I’ve gotten comfortable doing the things that I know I’m capable of. And so I’m really wanting someone to throw me a curveball this year and say I think you can do this, it’s not anything you’ve ever done. You know, take a leap of faith.

JW: You know, there’s a great book out called, Two Hundred and Twelve. And it’s talking about the degrees it takes to boil water. So water by itself, yes, if it’s in a rolling brooke, over a period of centuries can carve stone away and make great river valleys. Even if water’s rolling through a flood, can tear down homes. I get all that. But think about what water does when you raise it to a steam level. It powers locomotives that pull hundreds and hundreds of tons of railcars. It can pull hills that these railcars are still pulling loads and tons up. Magnificent hillsides and mountains. That’s only because you put a little pressure on it. And your BHAG needs to be something that allows you to put some pressure on yourself to be better, bigger, and bolder than you were yesterday.

A lot of people, though, don’t like discomfort, Lori. And we understand that. But you’re saying I’m gonna do something that makes me feel uncomfortable to be a better Lori when I’m done, right?

LF: Yes, that’s what I’m looking for. So, anyone have any suggestions, let me know.

JW: Absolutely, now I’ll take some as well. You know, my BHAG for this year for 2020 is simply this. I want to bring out, about, two online courses for our listeners to really dive deep on what we’re talking about on Live a Life by Design. The book will be coming out soon, and these things feed into helping others be better about themselves. And my only goal here, for our entire team at Live a Life by Design is to help the world be a better place to live. That’s a pretty big BHAG for me, Lori.

LF: That’s a huge BHAG, but I know that you’re tenacious, and I know that you don’t take no for an answer and I think you are going to crush that BHAG.

JW: You’re kinda funny when you said tenacious, my dad described me as the kind of man that I could tear down a steel building with a rubber mallet if it needed to come down.

LF: Well, my mother used to use the term bull in a china closet with me, so I think that’s why we’re probably kindred spirits.

JW: I think that’s right. And so, one of the best tools that you can gain in life, and now maybe tools not the best thing. Let’s say resource, let’s say that.

LF: I like it.

JW: The best resource in life that can help you realize a big, hairy, audacious goal is someone I call a mentor. And you know, mentors to me, have been so influential in my life. Not just professionally, but personally as well. So Lori, what makes a great mentor?

LF: You know, that’s an excellent question, and I think it’s different for different people and what it means. One of the great things that I think makes an awesome mentor is listening. You know, listening more than you talk. Especially when you first meet someone, and you’re looking to establish that relationship with someone. You’ve got to get to know them, and you can’t do that if you’re constantly talking.

JW: No, absolutely, and I would tell you in my younger years, this is gonna be a little bit more open up. I try to live a transparent life for everyone. I believe that I may have misused the one mouth two ear method by using that mouth far more than the two ears. Have you ever done that?

LF: Mmmmmm, yes. Not gonna lie.

JW: You know, my grandfather, I’ll never forget. My mother’s dad would say, there’s a reason God gave you two ears and one mouth son. Didn’t mean, even though I understood his statement, didn’t mean I put it into practice very much. So listening is a great, great comment. I have a mentor of mine, that to this day continues to influence me. Even though he’s in his mid eighties. And I wouldn’t say he was a Bill Gates ultra millionaire, that didn’t appeal to me. What appealed to me was just his demeanor, his standing in the community of how he treated others first, and it really made me feel like a servant’s heart at first makes a great leader at the second part.

LF: Absolutely. And I think that goes along with lead by example. You know, people don’t necessarily have to have a ton of money or be out in the community, in the forefront. A lot of people chose to lead that example by quietly serving in different areas, and you would never know that they have influence or have been an instrument in that way. So, leading by example is pivotal in a great mentor.

JW: You know, and you need to watch people because, I will say this. The old statement my dad said is, do as I say, not as I do. Well, that really may work for raising children in the 60s and 70s. It doesn’t work in today’s age, when we need leaders that are great of character as well as great in action.

LF: And I think as adults, you know, one of the other great things about mentoring especially young people in this day and age is that you can’t be afraid to share your experiences. Just because they are younger than we are, or they live in a different, I don’t want to say dimension, but sometimes I wake up and think what world are we living in. You know, it’s great because they find commonality in sharing those experiences, because at one point or another you were walking that same path that they are walking. And I think it’s great to be able to come together around the table and share those experiences with someone younger, older, or someone just starting out. It doesn’t matter. It may not necessarily apply 100%, but there’s a nugget of information or something that they can glean from that experience by you just willing, being willing to share that with them.

JW: Oh, great advice. And I will say to you, one of my mentors, I have several. One of my professional mentors, and he’s a dear friend as well, he is actually one year older than me. That’s it. But his experiences in the path that he took to get to where he is today have been just fascinating to me. Very, very much inspiring to me to see how he treats his family first. He’s actively in his church. For goodness sakes, he even has his own citation jet. He has done very well in life. And it’s not the material captions that he has that really made me impressed. What made me impressed was how many lives he changed to get there, for the good.

LF: Absolutely. And I think that’s important too, and you know, growing up in an experience like my childhood where I was a product of the system. You know, I grew up in foster care, and having those lack of adult mentorships in my life early on, it really impacted me when I had an educator take me aside and say, I’m willing to invest in your life, I’m willing to invest in who you are to become and who society says that they think you should be. But I know you’re capable of better. And so just, and it didn’t cost, well, it did cost financially for them. But in the beginning that investment in loving someone and mentoring someone, and bringing that person aside and changing their life, helped to break that cycle for me. And I think that’s so, the reason I’m so passionate about helping young people find their place and their voice is that it doesn’t matter. You know, I’ve said this before. It doesn’t matter where you start, it’s where you finish.

JW: Oh, great advice. And I will say this too, those mentors that saw the, for lack of a better term, the potential you could be, instead of seeing the person you were. Now I’m not saying a mentor is someone that comes out and purposefully changes you to be like them. You know, I’m not saying you need to assimilate them, I’m not saying you need to even do everything they do. What I’m suggesting a mentor will do was help you find the better you.

LF: And that’s what it’s about. It’s about being better and helping other people be better. But you know, along with that, being better, you can’t get the unless you’re consistent. And so one of the things that’s really important when mentoring or being part of someone’s inner circle, is that if you say you’re going to do something. You know, whether it be a task or an event or show up at something, be consistent. And don’t commit to things that you absolutely have no interest in following through. Because that’s a huge part of letting someone into your bubble, or into your personal space. I like to use bubble, but being consistent facilitates trust in a mentor. It facilitates comradery. You know, show up and do what you say you’re gonna do. Because that’s what people remember. They remember the people that are there that consistently participated in their lives.

JW: You know, you mentioned the word bubble. I think that’s very appropriate for where my life is. I have three women in my household and a female cat. My bubble burst many years ago.

LF: Yea, your bubble has expanded.

JW: Yea, very candid. I will say this tho, too, one of the things that makes a great mentor is someone that has understanding. And to me, that is the big picture of, I get what you’re trying to do. I understand who you currently are, and I’m gonna build that bridge to help you find your way. Not push you down the bridge. Not tie a rope around you and drag you over the bridge. I’m gonna let you find your path. And to me a good mentor is one that allows you to find it, literally like you almost could have done it on your own, but without that little bit of initiative, that little bit of push you may not have reached the pinnacle.

LF: Well, and that leads me to a quote that I absolutely love and I use it quite frequently, and a mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself. And that bridge comment is, it’s poetically beautiful in the sense that that’s exactly what a mentor relationship is. You’re building that access from point A to point B and crossing that bridge together with that mentor and that mentee, it makes it all the more worthwhile.

JW: You know, there’s an old saying that there are bricks that people have that have been thrown at them. And either you can build walls or you can build bridges. I’ve always been kind of a bridge person, I myself, I just don’t like the fact of isolation. Don’t laugh, I’m the youngest of six kids, I didn’t even have my own room til I was 15 years old. And I shared a bathroom with three girls, so that tell you anything?

Yea, it’s a long day getting ready for church. But the understanding piece of this is that at the end of the day those experiences we spoke of earlier give that person as a mentor the capability to see beyond what they’re trying to teach you and allow you to learn from your entire perspective that you already have. So you’re building on that, again, building that bridge.

LF: Un huh, it’s cultivating and encouraging that growth. It can be a small step, it can be a short conversation, well of course, if you’re gonna get technical in this day and age, a text message, or an email, or what is it, snapchat, you know. Not my favorite. I’m just now getting into instagram. It’s just that positivity to cultivate and encourage someone and it can be something so quick and so simple that, and it takes many forms. It’s great. It can be over a cup of coffee, it can be over a book study. I could be, you know, sometimes we mentor and we don’t even realize that we’re doing it. And I think those are the best types of mentor sessions.

JW: You know, one thing too, that I admire about my mentors is the fact they’re candid with me. You don’t want a mentor that’s gonna be a yes person. You don’t want a mentor that’s gonna sugar coat things because guess whose life down the road, you won’t see it now, so I tell people this, you learn bad habits now. And you think, oh it won’t be anything wrong, I’ll just skip working out today. No big deal. And then you skip a week, and then you skip a month. Then you realize, oh my goodness, now I’m on a bridge too far, and I can’t get back to where I was. Your mentor needs to be candid with you and say, hey Jimmy, I just don’t think that’s in your best interest and here’s why. If you’re wanting to go here, this is what I recommend you look at.

LF: I had a mentor that actually, I was looking at a career change, and she pulled me aside one day and she said, you know, I just don’t think you’re going about this the right way. And she said it out of love and grace and respect and it crushed me. I really had to do some soul searching because I thought so highly of her. And the influence of her mentorship is still in my everyday life and I really had to take it and evaluate it and I appreciated that, not that I necessarily wanted to hear it, because it stung a little bit. But after some self reflection and some soul searching she was right and it made all the difference in the world not to take that jump, because later on about two years, something bigger and better happened.

JW: You’re gonna laugh, and you know I’ve said this before with you, I am a journaling person. I can go back and look at the journals I’ve kept for 30 years now during my career and find those dates where these people were candid with me, telling me the truth, and boy I wrote it down and I scolded them, and like, they don’t know anything, and then I read them a few years later and I go, you know they were spot on. I wasn’t the person I needed to be being mentored at that time and the place I should have been. And so a lot of the times, I think, we as individuals, if you’re driving in your car and listening to this, think about yourself first before you pass the judgement on the other party in terms of being candid with you. And one other thing too, I’d like for you to talk a little bit about is how important is integrity to you if you’re going to be a mentor.

LF: It’s absolutely pertinent, you know, it’s, integrity is that thing that you have in doing the right thing even when no one’s looking. And you can’t possibly, and I’ve worked with a lot of young women and I tell them, you can’t possibly help someone else unless you can help yourself. And that’s very important to me, and having integrity is so important. And I feel, I don’t know what, that’s probably not the best way to say that, but I feel like a lot of young people are lacking in that area. Because no one is being candid with them, and no one is holding them accountable. And so I think that’s why it’s so important that as adults now, we find ourselves helping our young people learn about integrity and accountability.

JW: And I’m not talking about, and I agree with you 100%, I’m not talking about the fact of being condescending, being negative, I’m talking thought, and I think I understand what you’re saying is is that at the end of the day, we need to quit being so politically correct because that’s not helping the people that we’re mentoring. I think we need to be honest and that integrity comes from you being honest as you said, at times when no one’s even watching, we need to be honest. I think at the end of the day for me integrity in my mentors has been this, to tell me the truth even when it might have hurt them to tell me the truth.

LF: Oh, and I, there’s nothing worse than that feeling. You almost feel as if it’s a disappointment. You can see it on their face. You know, that they are the ones, they hate to be the ones to tell you that, but we all need those people in our lives. We need those people in our corners. Because those are the people that we’re still going, are still going to be standing there when times are great, when times are rough, and when times are just flat out miserable. But those are the people that you lean towards, and you grasp for those people because they’re the ones that are gonna tell ya.

JW: You know I just did a flashback, Lori, you know, this is not drug or caffeine induced either, this is just me and, I flashed back to 1975, Lori. Let me tell you what happened. I can still remember this, it is burned in my brain. My dad, of which I hold the greatest respect for. Just the hard working man. Taught us a work ethic, if nothing else. Didn’t have a formal education, sixth grade, was very successful, and just hard work teaching us honesty and integrity. My dad said something to me that just burnt through my soul that day. I can’t even remember what I had done. I do remember the words though, he said, I’m just very disappointed in the boy you are today. Now man that cut you to the core. So I said the one thing any good 10 year kid would say that probably did something detrimental. Can you not just spank me and get this over with, cause you’re gonna live with this hurt now, that you’ve got your father disappointed, and you’re gonna live with that for weeks, if not months, if not years. Here I am, later, you know 45 years later, I still remember it. So it tells you he got home to me. So I think too that integrity and just being honest at all times. And I try to do that with my children. I know you’ve got a son. I try to impress upon them, if you lose everything else in the world, your integrity and honesty and character will never be taken away.

LF: That’s right. No one can take that away from you, because it’s personal and if done correctly it means something.

JW: Oh, absolutely. So Lori, we’ve talked a lot about understanding, being a good listener, candor, experience, openness and integrity of being just a few traits a great mentor would possess. But our people, our listeners are going well that’s all well good, but where can I find a great mentor?

LF: Well, I think you can find a great mentor just by looking in the mirror. I think that you just have to have the right frame of mind and the opportunity to present itself. You can be, you know, you could find a mentor in the grocery line. You can find a mentor in the coffee shop. A lot of my friendships, as you well know, I’m addicted to caffeine, but a lot of my great mentor moments sometimes come early in the morning when I need that inspiration from someone, it’s just someone that I’m not even sure what their name is, but we share a common bond over coffee and we share experiences and antidotes with each other and we go about our day, and sometimes you walk out and think wow, I feel uplifted and I feel good about that. Like, that was just a really good moment. I think you can find a mentor at church. I think you can find a mentor at work, in any community organization, that you know, it’s the possibilities are endless.

JW: Absolutely. I’m even gonna say to those listening that I have found mentors that are not actual physical beings in my life, but in other ways. Through books, Jim Rohn, you’ve heard me talk about Mr. Rohn. I never met Mr. Rohn personally, I met Zig Ziglar on two or three occasions and I was just blown away by this guy. But Jim Rohn has been so impactful to me through his books, his audio books, just anything he wrote I picked up and bought. My library is full of his books. I loan them to people, I say, look, you will get something out of this so powerful you’re gonna wanna go buy the books when you’re done. But I want mine back, you know. And I say at the end of the day it doesn’t have to be someone that’s physically in your life. If you can fill that void, fill that yearning to learn and grow through other means, you know, we have this thing that I just brag on all the time called a public library Lori, have you heard of this?

LF: Yes!

JW: And they have these books, now it will cost you though.

LF: At the library?

JW: You bet, you gotta get off your butt and go down there and get a library card that’s FREE!

LF: That’s true! You’ve gotta get motivated.

JW: I talked about this last week’s episode. This is something free and we don’t get off the couch, quit watching tv long enough to feed our mine with the purely powerful positive stuff. That’s FREE!

LF: Right, and they’re people in your own backyard that have these outlets and things and one person when you said Mr. Rohn came to my mind is Jill Donovan. You know, absolutely love her, she is a great mentor and I don’t know that she even realizes that she is a mentor to so many people but her book, The Kindness Effect. I read it, and then I read it again and I’ve shared it with so many different people and you know, just oozing kindness and integrity, and compassion for other people. And even if you, you know, don’t follow her on a regular basis and you don’t know her story, just by sharing a few moments of her is so impactful.

JW: You know, at the end of the day, I’m gonna make a comment that’s gonna sound really out in left field here, but you are responsible for the ultimate you.

LF: Absolutely.

JW: Does that make sense?

LF: Right!

JW: So, we can sit here and say hey, go get a mentor. If you don’t heed the learning, if you’re not actively involved in the relationship to build that mentor/mentee relationship. You’re not really gonna gain the benefit.

LF: No, and I think, and that’s what I said earlier about looking in the mirror, about finding a mentor looking in the mirror. I think we all have something to share, I think we all have something to give. And we live in a time where positivity is so important. Living a life free of negativity, while, you know its not absolutely 150% possible, you know because we do have negative influences, but I think we should all head that, you know, Winston Churchill quote of what is it, “We make a living by what we make, but we make a life by what we give”.

JW: Absolutely. Man, and you just mentioned one of my great, I just love that guy. I’ve read everything he has had written about him that I can put my hands on and some of them have taken me months. The guy has quite a history. You know, the thing too about being a mentor and having a relationship with mentors is the fact that people go, well I just don’t have time. And I don’t have the money. And I don’t have the capability, and I want to say to you this. I can say for certain, no guessing allowed, for certainty, if you put your mind to finding all the excuses in the world to why you can’t do something, I got news for you. You can’t. It’s most important that we put our mindset on the positive. So to take a small step today, let’s do one thing to help our audience.

We have a Facebook page called Live a Life by Design Facebook page. You can comment on that Facebook page what is your BHAG for 2020. So if you’re listening today, go to Live a Life by Design on Facebook, just write a comment in. Here is my BHAG for 2020, and let’s start you on the road to being a bigger, better, and bolder you this year. 2019’s gone, Lori, we can’t do a thing about it.

LF: Gone.

JW: And at the end of the day, I’m sure you had a great year, I had a great year, but guess what? I’m looking for bigger heights in 2020, and I’m looking for greater opportunities. How about you?

LF: Absolutely. The sky is the limit. It’s a new decade, it’s a new, you can be the same person, but that’s what I mean for my BHAG personally, I want to be challenged to get out of my comfort zone and do something that even I think is possible.

JW: I got news for you folks, Lori has been a mentor, I don’t know how many times over. In your previous role of volunteerism by the way, I’m not gonna embarrass you, I hope, but in your previous role you were a director of a scholarship competition. And so these are young ladies from about 22 to age 18 for example. And I’m gonna say something, I don’t want any names on the air, but I do want to say have you ever seen one of those young ladies that was really that diamond in the rough that had just not maybe the best home life, maybe doesn’t have the proper schooling, education that you could just see, within that young lady the potential to be great and then maybe she won the local crown?

LF: Absolutely. Every girl that I’ve had the opportunity to work with brings a uniqueness to the organization. And I think that’s what is so awesome about being able to be part of a scholarship organization. There are parameters and rules to apply and enter and participate, but it’s really what the uniqueness of a young, what she brings to the table. Every girl that I’ve had the opportunity to work with has made leaps and bounds whether it’s community service, public speaking, poise, confidence, essay writing for colleges. That’s what I love about being a mentor for young women is that I can honestly tell you that all of the women that I’ve had the opportunity to work with have had great success academically and personally, but it all starts with the willingness to listen. It just goes back to that, you know, you have to be willing to listen and share those experiences and cultivate those young women because they’re the future of our community. They’re the ones that are gonna turn around and be great mentors to other young women.

JW: As a matter of a fact, for those of you that have been long time listeners we certainly appreciate it, but I had Miss Oklahoma and Miss Oklahoma USA as a guest on this show just about four weeks ago.

LF: Yea, and she’s incredible. And again, what a terrific story, who she’s had many mentors pour into her life and she’s continuing to give that back to other people. Just amazing. She’s amazing.

JW: I gotta tell you, she has been impressive to me just from the first day I met her, and the reason I was so impressed is a) she at least talked to me, and I’m the dad that carrying all the competition stuff. The luggage and dresses and all this, and this young lady just comes up and just hugs my daughter, and then hugs me, and I’m like, let me empty my hands, and she just such a sweetheart, Triana Browne, as you know I’m talking about. Great lady. So, the challenge this week folks, you set those goals last week. Go to our Facebook page, enter your BHAG on there. You’re gonna find nothing but support from this group, I assure you of that. And then I want to also offer to you this, if you in fact would like, we’re gonna produce a couple of coaching episodes, that’s gonna help you develop yourself coach. You know, like you talked about Lori. So we could do some things that could help people have, maybe some hacks, and some strategies to getting that done. What do you think?

LF: Who can not benefit from a hack at this point in their life? We all need those, we all need strategies, and if we’re gonna live in this life and share this world together, we’ve got to do it better, bigger, bolder and reach from every corner resource drawer, nook, cranny, bring it, I’m ready.

JW: Absolutely. Lori, thank you so much for joining us today on Live a Life by Design. This lady just brings it for me every time I ask her to come in, she just says you name the date. Monday morning’s are not tough, they’re easy, let’s make it that way for everyone.

JW: Any last words Lori?

LF: No, my last words, I’ve been big on quotes this time, because I find so many great quotes. “Be someone who matters to someone who matters.”

JW: Can I use that?

LF: Yea!

JW: Oh, I love it. Hey folks, see you next Monday on Live a Life by Design!

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