A Free Gift for the Young and Old

January is National Mentoring Month, so we at LifeSmart are focusing on all things mentoring! Why are mentors so important? Simply put, they offer wisdom and insight, friendship, encouragement, accountability, and invaluable connections for building a professional network. Mentoring relationships serve as a powerful intergenerational bridge that keeps us connected. And, all parties reap the benefits!

I was fortunate to be mentored by two pioneers in the investment consulting industry when I was a young professional, and my experience was amazing! Duncan Smith and Madelyn Smith were my heroes—successful investors and incredible people of integrity. Despite their heavy workloads, they always took the time to mentor me, and I truly believe this was the key to my career success. I was always baffled by the fact that so few of my peers sought out similar opportunities.

Ironically, years later, I filled the role that my mentors once had and I became the one who mentored the up-and-coming professionals. Again, I marveled at how few people came forward with interest in a mentor-like relationship. Whether it was from a fear of imposition or other factors, our young professionals rarely sought mentorship from their more experienced colleagues. Simply put, those who did were the ones on the fast track.

Today, the issue is still the same. I strongly believe that most of today’s young people are declining a gift that is sitting right in front of them—a mentor relationship. A mentor would likely help them not only become more knowledgeable, well-rounded people, but better employees with more know-how and gumption! Having a mentor would give them a winning competitive edge—a leg-up on the others.

By consulting with the veterans in the industry, young people can learn the job more quickly, along with the secrets to getting promoted. So, whether you (or your students or teens) are evaluating your career choices or already on the job, don’t hesitate to take full advantage of the wisdom around you. It is a free gift that you will be forever grateful you accepted. And, believe me, most experienced adults are honored to be asked!

And, if you’re an adult with the capacity to give back, I urge you to become a mentor to a younger person. Whether it’s associating with existing mentor organizations in your backyard or something more informal, your community is filled with young people who would gain from your wisdom and friendship. Trust me, you’ll receive far more in return.

If you’re a parent, one of the most valuable things you can do is to invite role model adults into your children’s lives. Who do you know that they could benefit from knowing? If I’ve done anything well as a parent (and, believe me, I have my share of warts!), it’s that I am a prolific connector on behalf of my kids. It is amazing to see the fruit that has come from the new relationships that have been formed! Believe it or not, I even gained a beautiful daughter-in-law from such an introduction!

Have you taken full advantage of mentors and wise counsel in your life? Who are they? How have they helped you in your life? Don’t forget, if you are a parent or teacher, encourage the young people in your life to pursue a mentor relationship. Few things will offer more lasting value.

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