Throughout my life I have been very fortunate to have had some wonderful mentors. For whatever reason, I have always been drawn to the wisdom of those older than myself (mostly men) from whom I have sought counsel and critique, both professionally and personally.
It’s been a tremendous blessing in my life and has made me a better husband, father, friend and business partner, thanks in large part to the wisdom and insight I have been given over the years.
I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting in the past several months. Having just turned 47, I’m realizing that where I once was the “young buck” trying to make my mark in the world, my thoughts are now turning to passing on what I’ve learned to others.
Perhaps this blog is one of those ways of passing that on.
Yes, I know, I still have a lot of living and learning to do. Yet I really think it’s my responsibility to begin mentoring the next generation coming up, both professionally and personally.
In fact, I think you also have a mentoring responsibility.
If you are young, I urge you to seek out someone in your profession who is more senior than yourself, someone you respect, and ask about a mentoring relationship. Don’t wait for someone to come to you. Be proactive and find a person who you feel has much to share.
Ask to meet regularly so that you can build trust and actually develop a relationship of mutuality. That is key, because as much as you need to be mentored, the other person also needs to begin mentoring.
Yes, you heard me right…THEY (folks in my generation) need to mentor you. It may not be something they have thought about, but mentors will find tremendous joy in passing down their wisdom and knowledge to you. They just might not know it yet.
And to those of us who are a bit older, we NEED to become mentors. I’m sorry, but I feel strongly about this. This is NOT an option. I’m tired of the “older generation” complaining about the “younger generation.”
What greater way to pass on all that great knowledge and insight than to mentor?
We all have so much to offer others in our profession and in life. And, if you are like Richard and me, you didn’t get a degree in non-profit management or fundraising. You probably had never even heard of such a thing. You learned this great work by doing, by making a ton of mistakes, by falling flat on your face and getting back up.
Well, you have too much to give to NOT pass it on. And, you don’t have to wait for one of those “young bucks” or “buckettes” to approach you.
Offer to take a younger colleague out for coffee or lunch and begin the conversation. If you are sincere, vulnerable and have an open heart, your wisdom and counsel will be accepted.
You have a responsibility to be either mentor or mentee…or both. Do each other a favor, get together, talk about life and work, care for one another. You will be better for it.
And thank you, Richard, for being one of my mentors. You are a good man.