“Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Abraham Lincoln
I often see men and women in positions of authority–managers, parents, business owners, freelancers, and artists–trying to operate their lives as a solo leader. They courageously attack roadblocks, problem solve with Google, deal with curveballs, and attempt to navigate their day-to-day life on their own. For reasons that are their own, they choose not to seek outside advice. For some, they don’t know how or where to find a source of wisdom to help them on their journey.
If this is the case for you, you may find yourself feeling lost and asking the same question every day, “Am I doing the right things? Is this the best solution to the problem I’m facing? Are my choices wise?” You always second guess yourself and your decisions. You feel the weight of the world on your shoulders without any relief from the pressure in sight. I have a couple tips to share with you that can help gain mentors in your life and the blind spots to watch out for.
But you don’t want to waste time looking for a mentor or guide, especially if you’re not 100% sure it will be worth your time and effort.
I know the feeling all too well. Trying to do life, run a business, or raise children in this kind of vacuum is not only time consuming, complicated, and frustrating, but it is also incredibly lonely. You have to face every new hurdle on your own, problem solves, and figure out a solution. There is no sounding board to bounce ideas off of. There’s no guide to shine a light on stumbling blocks you might face or give you a solution they know will work.
Whatever your journey is, doing it on your own is like trying to march up Mt. Everest and “wing it.” That would be beyond foolish. If you were going to climb Mt. Everest, the very first thing you would do is talk to as many people as you can who have been there to get as much wisdom, experience, and advice as possible.
The same is true in life. You need guides. You need help. You need sharpening. The most highly effective entrepreneurs are those that don’t follow themselves. Scripture is clear about this, too.
“Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.” Proverbs 11:14 NASB
For leaders and entrepreneurs, having a mentor or a guide is non-negotiable in my opinion. In fact, I consider it a prerequisite. If you want to climb to specific heights of success, having a guide is essential.
Without a mentor, many entrepreneurs, parents, and leaders get eaten alive. What’s even worse is that it’s easy to get discouraged looking at people who are already at the summit. You see them in magazines and watch their lives on social media. But you never truly know the cost, sacrifices, strategies, and devotion required to get the results in life we want.
Here are two of the most important strategies that I use to get out of this sort of vacuum:
Actively pursue wisdom – This means taking a proactive approach to finding people who are smarter, wiser, and more experienced than you. For an artist, that could be a former teacher or a more experienced peer. For a parent, that could be a grandparent, in-law, or someone whose parenting you admire and respect.
Sharpen your axe – Sharpening your axe means investing your time in improving your skill set, knowledge, and expertise. Sharpening your axe could be reading a book, taking a class, spending quality time by yourself, or (for tired parents) just taking a nap. Sharpening your axe means taking the time to improve yourself in a strategic way that enriches your life, work, and hobbies. Look to deep friendships to pour into you and refill your cup. Be super intentional. Remember, if you don’t fill your own cup you can’t pour into others.
Take Action: Today, maybe even right now, take a moment to ask yourself these questions: What was the last book you read or listened to that helped you sharpen your axe? Who are the mentors in your life that you carve out time to spend time with, ask questions, and learn? Who is in your up-line that is willing to give you wisdom? When you are with people that appear to be “catching up to you” in their expertise or knowledge do you write them off or do you look to see what you can learn? What would specific area(s) can be most strategic to invest time in and sharpen your axe? What are your most significant areas of weakness that need improving? Who can you reach out to today to establish a mentor relationship that can help you detect your blind spots and find hidden value in you?
If you need some help and mentorship I have a couple opportunities for us to work together below. Check out the links.
Have an amazing day!
“You don’t become extraordinary under the influence of ordinary people.” Bob Shank
“For by wise guidance you will wage war, And in abundance of counselors there is victory.” Proverbs 24:6 NASB
“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” Proverbs 12:15 NASB
More Helpful Links:
This blog post is an excerpt from my latest book, 31 Disciplines of Highly Successful Creatives. Click here to get your copy!
Interested in learning how to build a creative business from the ground up? Click here.
Looking for your favorite Disney character to hang in your home? Shop my latest releases in shop Disney Store by clicking here.
Would you like to discover your calling? [Free Video Series] Check out my new online mentorship for Christian leaders. Click here to watch now.