The Importance of Mentoring Our Youth
Regardless of the era, there is always a divide between younger and older generations. Slick Rick knew this in 1988 and the same is still true today. Younger generations want to be stronger, better and faster; while older generations want to be more calculated and careful. Is either approach wrong? Of course not. That’s why mentoring is so important.
So how can this divide be narrowed? Too often the importance of mentoring is overlooked. We’ve come a long way since the 80s and 90s when Big Brothers and Sisters and Scared Straight were the mentoring programs of choice. No disrespect to these efforts because for some, these programs shaped their futures. However, the mentoring relationship, whether you are the mentor or the mentee, does not have to be a forced, obligatory or even formalized situation.
Whether we consciously realize it or not, we learn something new every day from an infinite number of sources. Mentoring itself is a learning concept. We learn about life, love, pain, happiness, success and failure as a result of our experiences and how we interact with each other. You can greatly enrich your life by becoming a part of a mentoring relationship. Whether you are the mentor or mentee, there are some things you should keep in mind to ensure that the relationship is successful and beneficial for both parties.
As a mentee, you must first identify which area of your life you want to gain a new perspective on. It could be your career, education, friendship or a relationship. Identify someone who you have observed that is successful in your identified area. Contrary to common beliefs, your mentor doesn’t have to be someone older than you. However, don’t underestimate the knowledge you can glean from someone older. Be clear about what it is you want to improve and ensure that you are willing to commit to this improvement. Ask your potential mentor personally if he would be willing to serve as your mentor and give him the reasons why you chose him. If you have specific goals, share them with your mentor so that he understands what areas you should work on together. Be honest and respectful, and remain open to what this person has to offer. It is possible to have several mentors; however, you should focus on one area at a time to ensure that you give this process the proper amount of attention.
As a mentor, be honest with yourself and the mentee. Life gets busy so while you may want to serve as a mentor, take a personal inventory to determine whether you can really take on this responsibility. Although it doesn’t have to be a large time commitment, it does require some time and energy. Be the expert and provide knowledge but don’t miss the opportunity to learn from your mentee. Despite the means, the end is the same for all generations. Instead of trying so hard to sell your mentee on your particular approach, share best practices and help him to assess his approach and fine-tune it. Your role is to enhance the life your mentee. This role can vary from mentee to mentee. There is no one-size-fits-all method.
It’s been said before that the only thing that is constant is change. Take this year to make positive change a regular part of your life and take the world by storm. The world is yours.