The Broken Tunnel: Our Peers Are Our Best Mentors

Imagine you’ve finally reached your peak. You’re not taking on small clients, your business has increased, so has the staff and your corporate account. Then a friend and professional contemporary says, ‘You’re doing great! Now here’s the next step.’
When you have finely tuned your strategies and tactics and are in the flow of success and someone says there’s another level, it can be disheartening; especially when it’s coming from a friend. The purpose of a mentor is to guide you into a higher place, and a friend should be supportive no matter what right? Wrong. A good friend can accept you for whoever you are, but a great friend sees your potential before you consider the possibility of more.
The Broken Tunnel 
A young woman woke up one morning and decided to build a train. She had ridden on many trains before, some would recognize them as the ‘Get-by’, ‘Hustle’, or ‘Pays-the-bills’ locomotives. She wanted to build something new, something unique to her that many could hop on to as well and they could all get to where they wanted to go faster. She knew specific tracks needed to be laid to carry her train so despite the obstacles and fear mongering naysayers she laid her tracks that she called Possibilities. Then she built her train that ran fast and smooth with no delay or mechanical issue, and she named her train Triumph.  She only allowed certain people on her train that were comfortable riding the Triumph on Possibilities. While they rode on her train they were inspired to build their own modes of transportation to fly high, master seas, and hit the road; all moving forward.
To protect the mechanics and exclusivity of the train she created a tunnel with few openings that would allow new people on who were also moving forward.  She called the tunnel Fear-less because there was much less to fear while inside the tunnel. People would hear Triumph but no one could see it or comment on how it was working. One day a long time rider of the train approached her and said, ‘Have you thought about breaking down these walls and opening up the tunnel? Possibilities could run through many different types of terrains and the view for your passengers will also expand.’ The woman was appalled at the thought of breaking down the walls of Fear-less, stopped the train, and kicked them off.
A few months went by and Triumph’s engines began to wear, Fear-less was still sturdy, and Possibilities began to rust. The woman slowed down the train and passengers began to leave one-by-one. The couldn’t trust Triumph to run on Possibilities and wanted to leave the Fear-less tunnel to get moving on their own modes of transportation. Very few passengers remained and the woman struggled to keep her own faith in the slow moving train. One day a passenger saw a glimmer in the distance of the tunnel. They ran up to the woman and told her to go full speed ahead towards the glimmer. The light eventually got so bright that in shone through the car, though blinded she kept going. Warning lights and alarms started to go off in Triumph, but she kept driving the train forward. Finally she reached the source of the light. Triumph coasted to the end of Possibilities that it could ride on. And there in the broken Fear-less tunnel stood the former passenger.
The woman got off the train and walked out of fearless where the former passenger stood holding a sledgehammer they named Advance. The woman broke down in tears and explained how Triumph was dying and Possibilities were running out. The former passenger said,
“I knew it was hard for you to see where Possibilities could go, because you were in your tunnel. I also knew eventually your beloved triumph would stop running because it was never meant to run forever. You left behind the old trains, but this one was only meant to get you to a point. Well here it is.  You could not see that Possibilities was ending because of your tunnel. Now with this open space you have many options of where Possibilities can be built and travel to. I have a plane, Chance, and with I have seen so many places you could go.”
The woman took a relenting sigh as the former passenger explained that she would need a new train for her new tracks. She broke apart Triumph and used some old parts, combined with new parts to build the next train. The former passenger would allow her to fly Chance every once in a while, as they gave advice on how to build more of Possibilities. It hurt her to give up Triumph, but she realized that the former passenger was the best rider on her train because with them, Chance, and building more Possibilities she created her new train Prosperity.
Break it open
While this is a story, the process is the same. We take different components of our lives to build the ideal life, but we cannot have tunnel vision and be blinded by our own wit or knowledge. It’s hard to challenge our egos when things are going well, even if they are going wrong we still believe in our own minds for what is best. Our friends are our best mentors, because they know the desires of our hearts as well as what we are capable of, even when we don’t. We know the possibilities of our business or lives, but we must build it and trust those who want to help us take chances, ride through our triumphs and move forward with prosperity.

The Good Thing About Chaos

The Louisiana Church arson attacks, the fire at Notre Dame, the attack in Sri Lanka and the death of rapper Nipsey Hussle have all shaken many in those respective communities and around the world. However, it has also rallied support both locally and internationally and pushing forward our need to unify and empathize to make our communities better. When chaos strikes the affected community rallies together to provide support. Unfortunately, when the issue seems resolved the comradery dwindles and everyone is back to their regularly scheduled programming. It’s not that people do not care anymore, but the issue no longer affects them, and empathy is lost. We shouldn’t need chaos to remind us to stick together, but with that alarming reminder we can grow from chaos in many ways.

I do not listen to a lot of rap music, so I had no idea who Nipsey Hussle was until he died. What impressed me, was that he became the voice and activator for his community that sent a message to grow and prosper together. When Notre Dame caught fire, the world stopped and watched as centuries of sanctity and intricate construction were destroyed. Donations poured in to save this treasured relic and it left some Americans saying what about Louisiana? Soon after many donations were made to the affected churches to rebuild. When disaster struck on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka the world stopped once more and world leaders condemned the acts of terror and offered support to the people.

What all these disasters have in common is that none of the external communities have a direct link to it. Because each person/entity represented a place of peace and progress in many capacities it has unified us as a global community to become empathetic again and grow from that place instead of forgetting about it because it does not affect us. The same lesson about learning from our mistakes applies to our response to chaos, grow from them and create an opportunity to be better. Whether that is stopping unnecessary violence, giving support to causes, or providing aid to entities that are focused on making a community better. From that initial aid and empathy, we can gain a clear understanding of how these communities can grow. Nipsey Hussle and these churches used their voices and resources to provide a path to prosperity and peace and we have the capacity to do that together. When things need to change, something chaotic happens to provoke that change. However, on the other side of chaos is a process to create an opportunity to be better as people and better as a community.

Fill the hole, serve your community as yourself.

You do not have to own a company or nonprofit to make a difference, all it takes is asking the question of what can I do for this cause, movement, organization…my community? How can we as individuals fill a void, whether big or small, that will make a difference and possibly a ripple effect? The outside perspective on corporate community service is that a CEO gets their hands dirty occasionally, to show the local or global community that they care. This is not untrue. However, serving the community goes deeper than taking an opportunistic photo with a thumbs up and a plastered smile that says tax write-off. It’s imperative to remain a part of the community, no matter the heights you reach. And more importantly not allowing the prospect of recognition to be the driving force to solve a problem. Make it a point to volunteer, give, work but do something.

Monte Scott, a 12 year old from Muskegon Heights, MI, was fed up with the pot hole ridden street that he lived on and took it upon himself to fill 15+ potholes. He knew the issue was affecting everyone and decided that waiting for someone to “save the street” he needed to use what he had to make a difference. The Grand Haven Tribune reported that he picked up his shovel, got some dirt from his back yard, and evened out the road. He did not have any concrete or money to correct the road. However with enough gumption and worry after his watching his mother mess up her car on the road he knew the problem was bigger than just him.

How many of us take the time to take what we have, regardless of the amount, and fix something in the community? The city or state may not always allocate funds to your cause. The fundraiser may not always raise enough funds. The interest or care to fix something may not garner a news story. It may not be a great public image for yourself or your company. But does it make it any less significant to fill the hole in your community with your gifts, a favor, an act of kindness, or your influence to make your community better? We have the unlimited ability to take care of ourselves and each other with simple actions that create an even road to prosperity for our respective corners of the world.