Perseverance Part II

It is a very great thing for a person to associate with others who are walking in the right way: to mix, not only with those whom he sees in the rooms where he himself is, but with those whom he knows to have entered the rooms nearer the center, for they will be of great help to him and he can get into such close touch with them that they will take him with them. Teresa of Avila: Second Mansions (emphasis mine)

In 2009 I read A Game Plan for Life by John Wooden. Recently, a good friend of mine inspired me to reread the book. The first time I read this book I considered it the best of a number of outstanding books by Wooden. I was even more impressed the second time around. Wooden coached the UCLA basketball team for several decades, but his message is much broader than sports. In the first half of this book he tells about seven people who mentored him: his father, a grade school principal, two basketball coaches, Mother Teresa, Abraham Lincoln, and his wife. In the second half of the book, seven people recount their stories of John Wooden mentoring them. John Wooden surrounded himself with mentors. He identified specific people, focused on their strengths, learned from them, diligently applied their lessons, and then articulated what they taught him. While Wooden mastered leadership and teaching, he never let his role as a teacher overshadow his responsibility as a student.

About seven or eight years ago I wrote a document called Shaping Influences. This document listed 22 people that shaped my thinking about spirituality, leadership, and life. I also added a brief summary of what I learned from each of them. Reviewing this list several years later, some of these individuals still fall into the category of “shaping influences”.  A few others I can call mentors. There is a distinction.  Mentoring has a “discipleship” quality to it. Wooden illustrates this through his four laws of learning: demonstration, imitation, correction, and repetition. This intense learning requires focus, hard work, and discipline: For example, in talking about Lincoln, Wooden says, “my personal library contains nearly four dozen books about his life (I have a similar number about Mother Teresa).” Amazing. He read or studied nearly a hundred books on two people.

Teresa of Avila doesn’t use the word “mentor”, but this is what she is talking about when she says,  “for they will be of great help to him and he can get into such close touch with them that they will take him with them.” Finding someone to take you with them is what you look for in a mentor. And mentors are needed to to make further progress through the Interior Castle.

This week I encourage you to:

  • List your shaping influences and the lessons you’ve learned from them.
  • Narrow your list: Who are your ongoing or “lifelong” mentors?
  • Choose someone to take you with them: This could be someone new. This could also be an existing mentor you would like to take you deeper.

If you would like to share your list of mentors and why you chose them, I would enjoy seeing your choices. Please add a comment. 

For Perseverance Part I: Click Here

For Perseverance Part III: Click Here

Follow on Twitter: @Dave_Small

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Jesus Follower, Blogger, Public Speaker.

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Posted in 2nd Mansions
6 comments on “Mentors
  1. eden says:

    Hi Dave, This is excellent! The part “demonstration, imitation, correction, and repetition” really challenges my meandering practices. Watching another model, repeating their habits, being corrected (a culturally negative practice) and then doing it AGAIN. Makes total sense and takes courage and humility. Thank you for speaking into my life with this piece.

  2. Dave Small says:

    Thanks for your comments Eden. You’re right — culturally we are not fond of “correction”. But, when done in the right spirit and received with a learning attitude it can be one of the best vehicles of personal growth we can find.

    I appreciate you taking time to read.


  3. […] your progress through the Interior Castle. You can do this by seeking divine aid, finding the right mentors, and having fixed determination not to be […]

  4. pskopp says:

    Thanks Dave, There is much to think about here. It occurs to me how critical our view and understanding of ‘success’ is.

  5. […] topics: Mentors, Prayer and Meditation, and […]

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