I chose this chapter from my book to illustrate the power of combining stories with exercises to facilitate change. The story highlights the challange and the excercises offer a way to change the outcome.
It was 1956. My father and I were going together to a Yankee game.Talk about excitement!
I’m going with my live-in idol to see another one of my idols, who was larger than life: Mickey Mantle! I can recall it like it was yesterday. How could I forget that huge majestic form of a man with a big number seven on his back?
From my seat down on the first base side, I could see his forearm muscles rippling with each grip of his mighty bat. The pitch headed toward him and that prodigious swing propelled the baseball over 350 feet into the right field bleachers. It was just another home run from my idol! Of course, the Yankees won the game.
What is a mentor? Is it someone who inspires you? Is it someone who pushes you or is it someone who tells you that you can be better than you think you are?
In my opinion, it is a person who demonstrates qualities you would like to emulate. I can remember trying to run like Mickey Mantle, talk with a southern drawl like Mickey Mantle, and basically do everything the way I thought Mickey Mantle did. At ten-years-old, I really had no idea what kind of man that Mickey Mantle really was, but I sure knew what kind of a baseball player he was!
As I grew up, I learned that Mickey Mantle, as a real person,was as flawed as any other human being. My generation discovered that Mickey was a drinker and loved the nightlife. Had my father known the whole truth, I am sure that he would not have approved of me emulating the lifestyle of Mickey Mantle. As the sports memorabilia business became popular, so did Mickey Mantle’s resurgence into the limelight. He was asked to appear at countless baseball signings. In fact, his signature was one of the most sought-after autographs. People even named their children after Mickey. The Mick surely did not understand how influential he really was!
When baseball lovers found out that Mickey Mantle needed a liver transplant or he would die, they were shocked. But Mickey was big enough to admit that he had made mistakes. In fact, after he got that transplant, he went from a drunken has-been baseball player to a real hero. He told the world that he had treated his body poorly and had to pay the price for it. He urged people to use him as an example of what not to do. In one fell swoop, he may have changed the lives of millions of people. He became a beacon for a healthy lifestyle and a spokesman for organ donation. Even though he did not live a long period of time after his transplant, Mickey’s message of being responsible for your own health will live as long as his contribution to baseball. You, too, may be a mentor to a many of different people.
Remember, people are watching you and observing you. They see not only what you do, but also how you go about doing it.
- Do you do tasks willingly or do you consider it a chore?
- Do you volunteer to help people even though it would not benefit you in any way?
- Do you ask yourself what can I do today to make other people happy or better?
The function of life is to improve yourself on a daily basis. Ifyou looked back on your life, would you say that you helped people along the way or did you step over them to get what you want? In my personal experience, I have had the great fortune of having many different mentors. Several were teachers, others were clergy, and yes, a few were sports figures. From each of these people, I took away pearls of wisdom that enriched my life and enabled me to enrich the lives of others.
You don’t have to be wealthy or hold a high position to be a mentor.