Webster defines a mentor as “an experienced and trusted friend and adviser”, a term which originated in the tales of Homer’s Odyssey. Throughout my life, I have been privileged to come under the influence of several different mentors. These unique individuals who took me under their wing might have started out as my teachers, scout leaders, neighbors, relatives or supervisors; but each became much more when they taught me things I really needed to know. Regardless of how it begins, the relationship between a mentor and mentee is unique in that it is mutual, voluntary, respectful, and results in the handing down of wisdom… and that makes it priceless.
Each of us has lessons from our life experience that we can share. The world is full of people younger than us who need healthy role models. The greatest compliment we can receive is when a younger person follows in our footsteps or is positively influenced by us. Look around you. There may be young people who could benefit from your career guidance.
Our own children need mentors. As parents, we provide a life-long influence over our children, and hopefully, they respect and trust us enough to listen to us occasionally. But as Hillary Clinton has reminded us, it takes a village to raise our children. We cannot meet all of the needs our kids have for guidance, so we must encourage them to recognize and approach appropriate mentors when their paths cross.
Old friends can offer unexpected resources. Not long ago, I enjoyed a conversation with my son concerning his plans post-college. Whenever young people face the transition from school to the “real world of work”, they face the difficult task of “finding themselves”. For most of us, it is intimidating to enter an established field of work, join a pre-existing team of co-workers, or even decide which job to take. As my son and I discussed this challenge, I was reminded that a couple of relatives and an old college friend, worked in similar fields of interest as my son. In spite of how much time had passed, I contacted them and asked them if they would be willing to serve as a resource person for my son’s questions. Not only were they willing to help, but they welcomed the opportunity to rekindle old friendships and be of assistance; and they were honored by my request.
Community programs offer enriching relationships for kids too. I am proud to serve on the Board of the Greensboro Education and Development Council, Inc. (GEDC). This non-profit agency has been serving the residents of Greensboro for over fifteen years now. In addition to providing after-school and summer programs for children and the Challenge Leadership training program for young adults, GEDC operates a long-established man-to-man mentoring program and has plans to develop a mentoring program for young women as well. Programs such as these, help kids feel more comfortable in the world of adults and help them develop their confidence and self-esteem. The right mentor at the right time can make a great difference in one’s life.
People often remark that they wish they had more time to help others. Most who have volunteered in the past know that when we give of ourselves, we also receive! Healthy relationships between young people and more seasoned adults are one way in which we can all give something back to our community. In the big picture, the future of our society will depend upon how we each behave, since we are constantly setting an example for the generation which will follow in our footsteps. The best way I know to insure our future is to extend a helping hand to others. I’m absolutely certain that every one of us has something positive and valuable to contribute to our world. Why not pass it along!
©Copyright, 2004, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.
Return to Personal Growth
Return to Table of Contents