Updated: 4 days ago
I came to mentorship when I was 24 years old. I'm now 35 and it's nothing like what I thought it would be because I am nothing like who I thought I was 11 years ago! There is a lot I have wanted to share, because my mentors have essentially been fathers to me, giving me an upbringing that I never knew I needed, which absolutely continues to this day.
Growing up, I did fairly well by many people’s standards - I got decent grades at school, I took a gap year and travelled to South America. I studied abroad during university and had some great adventures.
I have vague memories from my early childhood, my dad left when I was 4 years old and my mother suffered from a lot of mental health challenges. I never realised how much those early years could impact my emotional, mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing. I was polite, well-mannered, did largely what I was told and wouldn’t say “boo” to a goose. But inside, beyond what I was even aware of, I was raging with anxiety, confusion, resentment and an intense fear of abandonment that I still work on today.
I’ve kept many secrets and hidden things I was deeply ashamed of. I never felt I could share these things with anyone. I knew even my closest friends at uni wouldn’t be able to understand. I just had the sense that if I told them, they would pay lip service, but not actually be able to handle what I told them.
I’ve been able to share with my mentors some of the most painful secrets I’ve had. I have literally been shaking coming to meet my mentor on several occasions, for fear of what I was going to share. Warren, Paul, and several others have not only given me an incredibly open space to bare my soul, they’ve helped me to use those experiences to help others. I never expected to be able to help people through traumas of childhood abuse but I’m humbled to do so.
What being mentored has done for me is something that no one has ever given me before. To be frank, I strongly believe that mentoring by most people's standards is desperately underestimated. Young men hear talks by the likes of Jordan Peterson, who expresses such depth of truth of what young men need and they’re touched by his words. I know first hand now, that they’re not just words. Young men are in a lot of trouble, with very few places and people to turn to. Being mentored and mentoring others is essential.
I grew up extremely infantilised; being kept in a childlike emotional state while I was physically growing. It meant my willingness to work, to suffer, to take responsibility was near the floorboards.
For this reason, my mentors hold me to a standard of living that I've never known before - becoming the very best person I can be and not compromising. Whether that's in a casual football game with the Lighthouse team, or being able to earn my own income and pay the family rent when the family couldn't afford it. It’s not logical to resist growing up and becoming a better person, but I’ve done it and I’m able to see and realise more of my God-given potential. That I’m not ‘destined’ to be weak, but my life is entirely in my hands and I’m building a life of my own now, living in a lovely home, dear friends around me, fitter, stronger in every sense than I have ever been and learning to serve good-hearted people.
I have argued and fought with my mentors and I've also had times I can personally recall where my mentors have apologised for their mistakes. Getting a phone call at night from my mentor apologising for something, because he cares so much about our relationship, is humbling beyond belief. I wish more parents knew this and it's part of my work moving forward, to help families bring mentorship into the home, so that organisations like Lighthouse aren't needed anymore.
I also want to say that I know some people online have spoken about Lighthouse, and mentorship in general and claimed that they’ve been ‘robbed’ or taken advantage of for what they invested financially to be mentored as a client or on an Associate Development Program. I feel a responsibility to put the record straight here.
What I actually have needed - and continue to need - to grow up to a fully functioning adult who contributes to this world - is so far beyond what I could have ever imagined. I have essentially needed intense therapy, mentoring and coaching in every single area of my life. By my own calculations, I have received back from my mentors at least 100 times what I’ve paid for. Not only in the mental and emotional support, but I have also literally been housed. When I was struggling and had to leave an apartment, my mentor Paul paid for a home for me to be safe out of his own pocket, in a beautiful environment, while I was recovering from years of narcissistic abuse from my family. I needed space for a year and I had that space. That’s just one of many, many things my mentors have personally done for me, never asking for anything in return except for me to pay it forward. So whenever someone I’m mentoring tells me they’re grateful for how much I give to them, I tell them that they have no idea of what I have received.
To put it plainly, in the last 11 years of my life I have essentially received trauma treatment and a complete upbringing to begin my development into a healthy adult. And it is still very very much ongoing. What I thought I was investing in pales in comparison to what I actually needed. Anyone who implies they were robbed is simply someone who did not want to do the work involved in receiving that upbringing because from my own experience, it is a very difficult, painful, but truly liberating experience. You cannot buy that like a book from a self-help section in a bookstore. Paul Waugh has spoken many times about how much so many of us are in great need of not only mentorship, but the counselling and coaching with it...
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