As a young man Russell’s mentors were his cool cousins and flat-mates. Really, they were just clueless ‘Lost Boys’ like him.
Later he realised there were heroes, good role models and mentors out there who’d help him, “…become the person I want to be in spite of the inner and outer obstacles I face.”
Russell’s recent book is a love letter to them all, full of hilarious stories of self-induced catastrophe as he blunders through life.
He acknowledges he’s still a work in progress, trying to stay open to learn and change.
It wasn’t until Russell was a celebrity drug addict that he sought out his first mentor, a recovered addict called Chip, who oozed credibility simply by practising what he preached. Russell was encouraged to talk about feelings he’d been keeping inside like fear, anger and vulnerability. Instead of judgement and solutions, Chip shared his own personal stories and experience with humour and compassion.
You may think you have nothing in common with Russell, but let’s face it, we all have our addictions: work, screens, sport, food, fitness, sex, gambling, games, alcohol, cigs, pot, porn. And all of us have important things we need to talk about but aren’t.
This positive experience left Russell open for others to speak into his life.
For example, after yet another failed relationship, his acupuncturist asked, “What does it mean then, all this meditation, this programme, this faith in God, if as soon as there is a problem in your life you turn to sex?”
The next mentor was Jimmy, a spiritual man who avoided giving easy answers and was able to be both detached and compassionate at the same time.
He recommended another mentor called Bruce to help Russell understand the source of unhelpful repeating patterns dogging his life.
Then a silent martial arts instructor helped Russell accept the humiliation of losing.
Later a counsellor called Manya guided him and his new wife through the first difficult years of marriage.
Russell eventually became a mentor to others, his desire to give back greater than fear of his own imperfections. He’s learned to put those to one side and be the man these guys need him to be.
The book’s honesty, affection and humour won me over. Ultimately, it’s a powerful call to action.
I learned two things: