Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Putting the "Men" in Mentor

A mentor is an individual, usually an older person, who influences, teaches and counsels another person. For many of us, the first mentor we had was our dads. They taught us how to ride a bike, pound a nail, cut the grass, drive a car and imparted lots of other useful skills. Our dads also taught us about respect, honesty, loyalty and chivalry. They advised us on what to look for in a future spouse, how to balance a checkbook and how to grill a steak on an open fire. Each year our dads coached us, advised us and counseled us on matters of life -- from business dealings to social skills. Many of the lessons we learned from our dads are, or will be, lessons we pass on to our sons.

But for many of us, other older men have also stepped up and relayed their wisdom. For me there was a neighboring man who gave me helpful advice on my career. He took it upon himself to look after me, guide me, and offer me his personal knowledge, as I entered my chosen career. I will never forget his instructions, and I can easily say I wouldn't have had near the success I enjoyed without his able mentoring.

Another influential mentor in my life was a supervisor. He went above and beyond his managerial role and took time to teach me lessons that have helped me more than once. Without his influence, I would not be the person I am today. These two men -- along with my father -- had a strong impact in shaping the person I am today. They all have been called home to heaven now, but their lessons and teachings will live on through me.

All three men were very different men in their lives and skills, but all three shared three important traits: they were interested in helping me grow; they stayed with me for many years, and they did not shy away from pointing out a fault.

To be a mentor is perhaps the best way to influence another generation. I encourage each of you to seek out someone to walk beside and help them grow in ways that only you can provide. It's an awesome position to fill in the life of another, and it's a privilege when one trusts you enough to allow you that role.

I would also encourage you to thank the mentors in your life, especially while it is still possible. It might surprise you to hear their response.

Note: The Men's NetWork has started a special Forum topic about mentors, available through the Men's NetWork page: www.lhmmen.com. You are definitely invited to participate.

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