The Impact of Mentors on Life Development

TAGS: negative experiences, positive experiences, Ken Whetham, mentoring, mentor, life lessons, elitefts.com, iron game, athlete, powerlifting, dave tate

Life is all about establishing relationships throughout your lifetime. Everyone you come in contact with during your journey will affect you in a different way. These interactions may or may not be significant and they may or may not be meaningful, but ultimately, they will be both positive and negative. Whether you believe that you're being influenced or not, your perception and interpretation of people and your experiences will shape the person that you become. As you grow personally, it will always benefit you to approach every day as a “learning experience,” and believing that “every day is a school day” will help you develop a positive attitude and learn and flourish.

There are different ways to absorb information and experiences. You don’t have to only rely and find positive things that change you forever; negative experiences and situations are also essential factors to learn. “Learning from your mistakes” is a moniker that should fit into shaping anyone’s lifetime journey. I haven’t met anyone yet who hasn’t admitted to making many mistakes in his or her lifetime, and I certainly admit to being on the top of that list!

I'm not a psychiatrist or psychologist, and I don’t claim to know anything about the complexity of human behavior or development, but I'm always curious as to how everything fits into the big picture. Curiosity has always been the greatest catalyst for learning.

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Personally, I've always excelled in sports, school and anything I’ve really applied my energy to, and I’ve always wondered why I’ve been so driven. I’d like to think that somehow I was naturally born that way, but I believe that your childhood environment has a lot to do with shaping you into the person you will or won’t become. I wish I could say that my dad was the driving force behind my successes by encouraging me, spending time with me and mentoring me to “be the best I can be” when I was young. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. My dad rarely spent time with us growing up and didn’t seem to take much interest in anything that my brothers or sister were involved in. He wasn’t easily impressed. I don’t remember getting a hug from my dad until I was 27 years old and was going through some really traumatic experiences, and I can honestly say that I haven’t had one since. One hug in 50 years…

Instead of feeding off any non-existent positive reinforcement from my dad, I fed off the negativity and worked my ass off at everything to try and make him proud. No matter what accomplishments I achieved, whether academic or athletic, I never remember my dad ever saying that he was proud of me. In hindsight, I’m hoping that he was proud, but his old-school mindset wouldn’t allow him to say it.

That lack of acknowledgment from my father fueled me (like tackling fuel for Adam Sandler in The Waterboy). I continued to focus my drive and work harder to try and achieve more to impress him. My dad has never uttered the precious words, “I’m proud of you.” Don’t get me wrong—I love my dad and always will. I thank him for being such a hard ass, and I recognize that he had some significant difficulties and issues during his childhood that wasn’t the best for him growing up. His approach to raising me was a huge influence on developing me to be who I am today. I chose to learn from a negative experience and turn it into positive energy. This has also had a profound impact on how I raise my own children. I chose to be the exact opposite of my father; I tell my kids all the time how proud I am of them for all their accomplishments and achievements, and I smother them with support and guidance with a constant flurry of hugs and affection at every available opportunity.

During my lifetime, I've crossed paths with countless people who I can credit with both positive and negative experiences that have shaped my development, some more than others. My wife Sheri has to be number one. If I had one wish, it would be that everyone could have a life companion of such high caliber and character that no matter what life issues arise, you have someone to rely on who you are so “in tune” with that you can conquer anything together as a team in your partnership.

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In the powerlifting world, I've had great opportunities to meet some of the greatest people and lifters on the planet who I admire, hold in the highest esteem and consider mentors. Just meeting such icons as Louie Simmons, Dave Tate, Chad Aichs, Jo Jordan and Brian Schwab, to mention a few, and having the opportunity to interact with these people who are so passionate about their sport and helping people learn and grow is an experience immeasurable with simple words. All the experience that I accumulate through learning from my mentors and other influential people has helped me develop and grow as a person and an athlete.

To be successful, people surround themselves with other people or businesses they know, like and trust. To be successful in athletics and in life, your objective should be to surround yourself with like-minded people who are positive, influential and have similar goals as your own.

I’m a firm believer in:

  • Treating other people the way I would expect to be treated
  • Working hard because it pays off
  • Leading by example
  • Believing that good things happen to good people
  • Treating each day like it’s a school day
  • Considering every experience a learning opportunity

Dave Tate, the elitefts™ staff and Team elitefts™ have, without a doubt, been one of the biggest influences on many, many people and athletes, including myself, in the strength training industry. Elitefts™ oozes experience and passion for being “the best “ in supplying endless amounts of knowledge, wisdom and training to everyone who wants to learn. Dave Tate’s goal to share knowledge through his vision of "live, learn, pass on" is unparalleled by any measure. Dave is the epitome of leading by example.

I can only hope that someday I can be half as influential to others through being a good person and role model and help people as much as my mentors and role models have influenced and guided me. Live, learn and pass on.

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