Serious Mentoring and Recognition Leads to a Turning Point

Matt Coddington
MDI Contributor

Asking and receiving help from my men, and what did it mean for me…

Time machine. San Jose, California, 2003. My first men’s team after my point team and after my Men’s Weekend in September 2001. I was on a team with Bill Wilburn, Brian Lowe, Marshall brothers Chris and Kurt, Craig, Danny … man I’m forgetting their last names at the moment. It’s been so long. But boy oh boy do I remember Bill Wilburn.

It was through Wilburn that I received the help I needed, and through him, understood how to ask for the help I needed from these men.

True story. I was at a big crossroads in life. Went through two damaging and painful short-term recreational relationships due to a lack of knowledge regarding the difference between short-term recreational and long-term committed.

But I was on a team. Nevertheless I was lost. Wilburn took stock of me.

Wilburn, being a successful lifelong attorney who worked his way through college and law school in Montana at his father’s saw mill, also in Montana, pulled me aside and sat me down one night. He told me that he thought I could be a successful attorney or business executive. I was blown away. My own father was long passed away, and I had no other accomplished men in my life who could deliver such a thing to me. He reached right into my heart and mind and somehow knew what I was craving and needing.

Wilburn said to come over to his house the following Saturday. I did and was of course on time. He said to get into the car. I didn’t know where he was taking me, but I trusted him implicitly and knew it would be good. Indeed it was. He took me to the Santa Clara County Law Library. People were there studying, writing, and working intently, all very quiet. He showed me various books and collections and talked to me about what was contained in them. I asked him questions and was completely fascinated with what he was showing me. I connected with it all. Then, he asked me if I would be interested in an open house at a local law school getting ready for the next semester.

So off we went, me full of anticipation, wonder, and adventure.

After presentations by the dean, instructors, and students, Wilburn asked me if I’d like to enroll and become an attorney. My heart said yes and then my mouth pronounced the word. Of course I did. We may have spoken to instructors or the dean, I can’t remember. But now it was time to get to work to make it happen.

With Wilburn’s mentoring, I went to the team and told them what had happened, what I was going to do, and what I needed. The initial down payment for the semester was somewhere between $1500 and $2000. Might have been $1700 or so. I didn’t have it. The team, being a mix of contractors and handy guys said this to me:

“Go find a building project and with our expertise and experience, we will help you complete that project and get the money you need to enter school.”

So I did.

I found a person who needed a backyard deck rebuilt and contracted with him for the exact amount I needed for school. Chris Marshall, a carpenter, took me to Home Depot and taught me the types and sizes of wood, and the other materials we’d need, to do the job. With Chris’ help, I ordered all wood and materials, had them delivered to the jobsite, and scheduled the job and team.

The job eventually was completed and I received a check from the homeowner. That money went directly to The Lincoln Law School Of San Jose. I enrolled. That semester was one of the most incredible experiences of my life academically.

You may be wondering: is Coddington an attorney now? No, I’m not. I didn’t continue that path. However that experience ultimately led me to be a small business owner today. Wilburn said he could imagine me as an executive too … and I am one.

The point of the story is this: when a man receives serious mentoring and recognition, it could be the turning point for him, as it was for me. I didn’t even know I was starving for it. And when that man understands that he needs to ask for help, and does, his life may become completely different and so incredibly good. He may even go on to experience something he’s always wanted to experience … like the man he’s always wanted to be.

When a team helps a man to succeed and grow, the team wins. No doubt about it. And all men on the team win! And all men on the team, including the man who received such special care, grow in relationship that will never be forgotten.

It is now August 2020, and I vividly remember that care and help I received in August 2003 …17 years ago.

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