Over the next several weeks, I’m going to be writing about men in my life who have been mentors to me. It’s a diverse group, and I did make a stipulation that I needed to have me them in person before. Today we’re kicking off with author & speaker Jon Gordon.
I first met Jon over the phone. I was interviewing him for Florida Lacrosse magazine, talking about his memories of playing Cornell, advice for young lacrosse players, and his current work. Before and after the interview, we spoke about varying topics, the most memorable for me being how he started as a writer. Jon had several different jobs and lead roles in companies, including owning Moe’s Southwest Grill franchises in Northeast Florida.
But he felt he wanted to write, despite success in other fields, and told me about his beginnings.
He talked about his first book, The Energy Addict, and then his breakthrough book, The Energy Bus. Jon was the first person outside of my family who I told about my passion for writing, and he genuinely encouraged me to follow that passion.
That was in 2008. Since then, Jon and I speak semi-regularly, whether on the phone, through email, or even twitter, he has continued to be an encouragement to me and my work. I remember a conversation we had about writing, and he asked how mine was going. I confessed I hadn’t done much of it lately, too much of this or that.
“Well, do you still want to write?”
I said I did.
“Start small then, just write 20-30 minutes a day, whatever comes out, just get it on the paper. The rest will come.”
Months later, I put together an ebook of short essays I had written, and sent it off to Jon. He was generous to read it through, and offer some comments, suggestions, and praise for the piece. His willingness to give me feedback was humbling.
Jon returned the favor, and sent me an advance copy of his book Soup, asking me to read it over and offer feedback before it went to a final draft. It was really cool to feel he trusted me with a piece of his work, and valued my feedback. Sure enough, when I sent in my notes, he thanked me, and a couple made it in to the final draft.
I haven’t spoken with Jon in a while, life for both of us has been quite busy, his more so than me. Jon is a sought-after speaker and continues to write, while spending time with his wife and 2 kids. But I know that if I reach out to him, he’ll check in when he can and answer my questions.
What I learned mostly from Jon is the value of connections, relationships, kindness, and how much an interaction can mean to someone.
Maybe the dozen times we’ve talked over the years hasn’t been a burden to him, but he didn’t have to return my calls and emails, or initiate praise, or offer advice on writing. But he did.
As I continue to write, and even more importantly as I prepare for the summer at Rockmont, I realize even more the value of these connections we make with each other. You may not feel like you’re doing much, but your attention and kindness can mean the world to someone else.
Don’t miss that opportunity.