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Sometimes when we are working on a project, there is a trick to success that makes the task WAY easier. But unless you have been shown the trick, you don’t know it. You might be doing things the hard way, making your life much more difficult than it has to be.

This happened to me one day in junior high when I was at Boy Scout camp. I was working on my canoeing merit badge. One of the things you had to do was capsize another person’s canoe, and then get the capsized canoe right side up again (while not capsizing yourself in the process).

One afternoon, I paddled out to the middle of the lake with a couple of friends who volunteered to be capsized. I dumped them out of their boat, and then tried to get their canoe back in action again.

I ran into a problem. When I tried to turn their canoe right side up, it would fill up with water. I tried a bunch of times, and the result was the same. I shook my head in disbelief. I couldn’t figure out how to get the capsized canoe turned right-side up without it filling up with water.

I sat out in the middle of the lake for about an hour, trying and failing, trying and failing. It seemed impossible. I got frustrated. I started to cry. My friends were getting sick of sitting in the lake. Finally I rowed back into shore, defeated. I didn’t think there was any way I was going to get my canoeing merit badge.

But there was a trick to success. The trick was to pull the capsized canoe on top of your own canoe. Then, when the capsized canoe was raised up above the water, you could flip it over without having the capsized canoe fill up with water. Once the boat worker told me about the trick, it seemed so easy. Of course that is what I needed to do, I thought to myself. The next day, I went out again (with my same waterlogged friends), and completed the task in 10 minutes. It was easy.

But I wouldn’t have succeeded if the boat worker hadn’t told me about the trick to success. I had a framework for how I thought about fixing a capsized canoe, and the trick to success wasn’t on my radar. I needed help to figure it out. I needed a mentor.

That’s why it’s so important to surround yourself with other people who have already succeeded in the task you are trying to complete. Whether your goal has to do with work, relationships, health, or your spiritual life, we all need mentors who are a little further down the road than we are. Don’t struggle all by yourself, get frustrated, and quit. Get a mentor who can show you the trick to success.

Discussion: Do you have a mentor in your life that has succeeded at the task you are trying to do? What is one step you could take in order to find someone who can help you find out the trick to success?