This week I have the honor of addressing a group of emerging leaders. The topic is ‘Nuts and Bolts’ and why we need a network. When I was younger, I kept hearing about mentors, mentors, mentors. I have had countless individuals pour into me throughout the years, but when I hit my 30’s and 40’s, I figured I was a big girl now and could do it on my own. So of course, that's what I did. After all, isn't adversity and mistakes all part of the process? Well, the correct answer is yes, and no.
I went through quite a few valleys because I neglected to draw close to those who possessed maturity, wisdom, and discernment. Mistakes are learning tools; however, we are all flawed and need checks and balances, so we can avoid making them in the first place. We also get emotionally low, due to the second law of thermodynamics, and can throw ourselves into physical exhaustion or a nervous breakdown. Calling on others to help shoulder the load prevents this. We possess a limited perspective and often fail to see our biases and false assumptions. Counselors can be objective with us and prevent us from making a horrible decision or just give us a loving slap in the face or kick in the pants. No sounding board equals no perspective. Blind spots are lousy locations from which to make a life turn. You’ll most definitely get hit by oncoming traffic.
Don't just settle for one counselor. Proverbs, one of the highest wisdom books containing timeless truths for the ages, states we should have a multitude of counselors (Proverbs 15:22). It's crystal clear that without counsel you fail; with an abundance of counsel, you succeed. And I know every single person in our tremendous tribe wants the later. I have a spiritual warrior, a professional mentor, a financial advisor, a health coach, and countless other dear friends and casual acquaintances who freely offer me their support. But then again, I ask— a lot— and I honestly put myself out there.I don’t want to go back to my earlier years where I was stubbing my toe in the dark and tripping over obstacles I couldn’t see. I want light. I want clarity. I want truth. And that's what the abundance of counselors brings into your life. For the record, it’s not just individuals that fail when they distance themselves from wise counsel. Proverbs also points out that when there is a lack of guidance, even nations fail (Proverbs 11:14). So, if the mighty nations can’t do it on their own, we don’t stand a chance.
I used to think that my growth was determined by my experiences, i.e. more experiences, more growth. Now I know better. My experiences with others determine my growth. It’s a slight shift, as most great truths often are, but an incredibly important one. Experiences mean, and amount to, nothing without the influence and interaction of others. No failure, no triumph, no record set, no broken heart, can be distilled down to the sum of its parts. We are not machines that reprogram ourselves to work the bugs out of our system or do it faster or better the next time. Experiences only genuinely develop us when shared with our fellow citizens on this planet. And that’s why the abundance of advisors is a sure recipe for success.
Counselors are the nuts and bolts of your life. Without them, you’ll fall apart. If you want to be the sharpest knife in the drawer, you're going to need someone to grind off your rough edges. If you're going to be the brightest bulb in the ceiling, you're going to need a tremendous source of energy. If you want to be the most brilliant diamond in the mine, you’re going to have to rely on others when you’re under pressure lest you shatter into a million pieces.
This week, lay down your armor and find at least three individuals you want to bring into your life as advisors. This process doesn't have to be anything formal, but you do need to be intentional in thinking about this, doing some research and reflection, and asking. If we don't ask for help, that means we don't think we need it. And we all know where that false bravado leads. Every connection you bring into your life for wise counsel is a lifeline that threads and incredible net that provides not only safety but tremendous strength, reach and support.