The secret to finding a better mentor

Bookstores are filled with books on leadership, most of which are worth less than the pages they are printed on. Don’t waste your money, and don’t fall for the sales pitch. Instead, judge a book by its cover. But not the front cover. Look at the back cover.

I look at the author. I read the bio. If there is a picture, that helps too.

Why? I’m looking for someone who has done something with their lives. I usually find that leadership books are written mainly by corporate megalomaniacs or Christian celebrities whose resume is filled with hours in meeting halls or researching in their study.

I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be that kind of leader. I’m not opposed to meetings, and I love to study and read, but I NEVER want that to define me as a leader.

I want to be a leader of men, a field general. Someone who is not followed because of his position but because of his character.

Character is developed on the battlefield and in the trenches of life, not sitting alone in your study. I want the people I lead to trust me because I am there alongside them doing the hard things, and I have been there for years paying the brutal price to be an exceptional leader.

There are two things that people are looking for when they are deciding who they want to follow:

Stories & Scars

How do you know if a leader is “the real deal”? They can prove it. They can tell you stories about when they did it right and saved the day, but also about when they did it wrong and screwed everything up. They should not be ashamed to tell either kind of story.

Most people have an idea of what they want to be. They want to be brave and adventurous. They want their life to impact the world around them in some significant way. People want to follow leaders who demonstrate these same traits in their daily lives, and they have the stories to prove it.

Don’t waste your time with leaders whose leadership relies too heavily on theory, especially if they want to lead you down that same path.

Look for someone who inspires you to be who you dream of being.

Better yet, become that inspiration for others by getting out there and living life and doing what no one believed you could do.

But beware, there are a lot of posers out there. Anyone can tell a remarkable story. That does not necessarily mean that story is theirs!

Look for their scars. This is their seal of approval.

It means that they believed in something and were willing to pay the price to demonstrate their belief.

I can’t tell you how many young men and women I have led that cut bait and went home at the first sign of difficulty. I had one guy who went home because he wasn’t expecting mosquitos in the Amazon! What were you expecting?! Unicorns and fruit cocktails?

Few people are willing to stick it out and pay the price. But these are the ones you want to follow, the ones who weren’t necessarily looking for fame or notoriety; they just believed in something. They kept hustling and grinding until they kicked the crap out of life and everything it has thrown at them. Follow the ones that they walk away from the victor without compromising their principles in the process.

These are the leaders people genuinely want to follow, but sometimes fear causes them to compromise. So, They settle for some guy with a pretty face, a best-selling book, and seven simple habits that promise to change their life.

That is a load of crap, and we all know it. Real leaders have lived life, and they have the stories and the scars to prove it. There are no shortcuts.

Today, many of the world’s problems stem from our choices to follow the gurus instead of the men who are actually qualified to lead.

Be prepared, fake leaders will try to minimize the impact of real leaders because they are intimidated by their strong personalities, and they are afraid that they will be found out as a fraud when placed in proximity to the real deal.

So be careful that you don’t mistake people who have positions and power for battle-scarred leaders; they are not always the same.

Choose wisely who you decide to follow and be intentional about how you lead. That is all.

Celebrate your scars, sweet soul, they are a sign you have lived beyond your suffering.

— SC Lourie

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