Caring, Failing, and Acceptance

On Caring, Failing, and Acceptance...

Have you ever tried so hard to help someone that you deeply cared about and failed?

I have.  So has Tom Bilyeu.

I'm attending #Influencer2019 in San Diego.  On the first day, we had speakers including the lead trainer Brendon Burchard, as well as guest speakers -- author Rachel Hollis (Girl, Wash Your Face), podcaster Lewis Howes (School of Greatness) and Impact Theory creator billionaire Tom Bilyeu.  Trent Shelton (@TrentShelton) ended the day on a powerful and solemn note.

Tom Bilyeu told us about his story, including a college extra-credit opportunity he took advantage of where he mentored a young boy named Rashaun (I hope I am getting that spelling correct!)  That relationship ended up lasting 8 years.  And he shared with the audience that he didn't end up saving Rashaun from his zip code (the number one predictor of success for young people today).

I am not Tom Bilyeu, I am Tom Detert.  And I too have mentored.  I've given of myself until it hurt -- bad! 

There was one I couldn't save either.

We'll call him Monty.  I met Monty when he was 14.  I became involved in his life when he was 15.  He was definitely headed for trouble.  He lacked a positive, consistent male role model in his life.  I did everything I could to help him achieve the life he told me that he wanted.  It was a very tumultuous relationship. 

But I failed.  The relationship became too volatile, and we parted ways

The guilt of that failure has haunted me for a very long time. 

I know  that there are some lessons Monty learned from me that he has taken with him.  I know I have made at least SOME positive impact on his life.  

There are those close to me who tell me that Monty failed himself.  On an intellectual level I get what they mean, but emotionally, it remains a wound.

You cannot force anyone to change.  You cannot force anyone to buy into an opportunity.  Each person is on their own journey.  Their journey and destination are their own responsibilities and not yours.

I made the choice to genuinely care and help someone.  That in itself is SUCCESS.

I was a volunteer and one-on-one youth mentor for over 20 years.  I loved every minute of it.  Every now and then, someone would tell me how awesome I was for doing that...

The truth?  I got just as much, if not more, out of mentoring than I gave.  As I helped those young men find themselves, I found myself.  I wouldn't trade even a second of that time I spent mentoring for all the money in world.

But mentoring took a lot out of me.  And just like everyone else, my life is evolving and my priorities, passions, and values are changing.  My struggles changed as well when my anxiety and depression jumped to such a level that I was suicidal.

At that time, I realized that it was time to retire from mentoring.  I found a new calling as a mental health advocate through my work on Defying Depression.  In these few years, I know I've impacted several lives doing this work.  And I know I have much more work to do.

The young men I have mentored are now all grown up, starting families of their own.  They will all carry at least some of the lessons and values I taught them forward in their lives and those lives they care to impact.  

You should always try your best to succeed.  But never forget that it is ok to fail. 

So to you, and to Tom Bilyeu, remember: Failing is far more powerful than not having tried!

To the men I mentored: I love you all.  Even Monty.

Thomas Detert is a mental health blogger and advocate.  He is the founder of Defying Depression: an online self-help movement that encourages those suffering with anxiety and depression to learn how they can help themselves. 

Visit to learn more.

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