December 1997 – my wife goes to a school in the small town south of Charlotte that we had just relocated to. She meets with the principle and asks, “Is there a family in need that we can help this year?” Being new to the Charlotte community, we wanted to help locally and thought that was a great way to do so. Connie was paired with The Jones family, and though the Jones’ had several kids, Connie connected with one in particular, Sue.
Fast forward to November 2016 – Connie is helping Sue with her wedding plans. A lot has transpired over all those years, deaths, school, military service… you name it, those two have discussed, debated, argued and ultimately made it through each one.
How did they continue this near-20-year relationship? And why?
Connie’s mentoring role in Sue’s life. It’s that simple for me, but mentoring is not simple by any means.
Looking back to August 2016 – my friend and co-worker Bill says, “Hey, what’s the deal with this mentoring thing?” He had been reading up on it and found it fascinating. He was soon to be 50 years old and was now hearing and reading about the importance of this vital, personal-development piece of life. It was so cool to hear him “get it” and it will be a great thing to watch develop.
You can read about, and for that matter directly ask people who have been influenced by, guided by or have seen different points of view by having a mentor, what the value of these relationships are. It requires work by both parties, however the benefits are certain to outweigh the efforts. And besides that, I feel that is our duty to help those who are coming in our wake. Our future really is in their hands.
As a nation and as a people we do a horrible job of passing down the Tribal Knowledge that has been gained by generations of skilled trades workers. This is where mentoring comes in. All of these years of wisdom and experience needs to be internalized by the ones coming along behind us and there is no better way to do it than sharing the conversation, laughter and tears that come along with true mentoring relationships. Our duty in a mentoring role is to poke, prod, guide, suggest, etc., but the commitment from the mentee must be just as strong as the mentor.
Look for more on the retiring workforce soon. It’s a big, big deal.
My life was made much more whole through several mentors I have had and still have now. My dad was the first. Big, strong and the most HVAC savvy man I have come across. He was firm and opinionated, and that is part of the fabric he wove into me. Second, after my dad died, was a senior guy at a company I worked for. He simply didn’t have time for the relationship. I asked for it, he was just too deep into other things and folks. No harm, no foul. You just never know until you ask and try it. Then there is Tom Peters. Yes, that Tom Peters. Oddly enough, I only met him once in person, but he was able to mentor me through his teachings. My friend Sam Frowine. Man, what a guy he is! As an older adult, I can soak up knowledge through a different vein than before. I still connect with Sam to this day.
OK, what’s the ultimate point I am driving at? Find yourself a mentor. Too busy? B.S., make time. Open yourself up to mentoring others. Yes, more than one is allowed. These are not static relationships, maybe it works for a year or 20, maybe not… just don’t quit looking and asking.
Our future is in your mind, heart and the ability to make slots on your calendar available for those who need you and vice versa.
#TribalKnowledge, pass it on.
Until next time,
Stay controllably un-hinged,