Advice from a mentor from 21 years ago that I continues to guide my life today

I keep a running list of the most impressive, impactful mentors in my life. These are people who have helped me in a significant and meaningful way and have impressed the hell out of me while doing it. 

Simply put, they are some of the best people I have known.

My plan is to write a book about these people and the lessons that they have taught me. 

The list currently stands at eight:

  • My former Scoutmaster, Donald Pollock
  • Former sixth grade math teacher Mrs. Shultz
  • Former high school French teacher Lester Maroney
  • Former English professor Pat Sullivan
  • Former English professor Jackie LeBlanc
  • Former McDonald's manager Jalloul Montacer
  • Former teaching colleague Donna Gosk
  • Former principal Plato Karafelis

In searching for photos for a book proposal, I came across a note from Jalloul that he wrote to me in November of 1995, just before leaving the Hartford restaurant that I was managing while attending Trinity College. He offers a piece of advice that I thought worth sharing:

The secret to success is being more energy-oriented than goal-oriented - seeing life in terms of constant progress and not pre-established ends.
— Jalloul Monatcer

This may seem like the antithesis of someone like me who sets goals, publishes them online, and charts their progress monthly, but not true. I often achieve only about 60% of my goals in a given year and am comfortable with that degree of failure.

My goals remind me of my direction, but it is relentless, unending progress that I seek to achieve.

Jalloul taught me many important lessons. All of the people on my list did. Perhaps some day I will tell those stories.