“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” – Mark Twain
Wisdom is the byproduct of experience. Experience is the product of many choices, mistakes, victories, and circumstances. In this life, we have a choice. We can learn from our own mistakes or we can learn from the mistakes of others.
The wise person will seek to gain wisdom from others to avoid unnecessary heartaches, mistakes, and bad choices. Wisdom is essential for success in your family health, work success, spiritual growth, and personal life.
Here’s a word to younger people. One of the best ways to gain wisdom is to identify and develop a relationship with an older mentor.
Why an older mentor? Just as you can look back and see how your life decisions have matured over the past ten years, a mentor can see patterns of behavior and trends in your life. Older mentors benefit younger mentees because they have more experiences and insights as well as the ability to give you a glimpse of yourself in the future—in a way that your peers cannot. They can help you think more clearly about the coming decisions you will need to make and can advise you on how to navigate them wisely and successfully.
Before you select a mentor here are a few helpful tips for you to remember.
- Clarify Your Arrangement. When selecting a mentor, be clear about expectations. What will the mentor provide? How often will you meet? What are the areas you want to grow? Clarifying up front helps make for a better relationship long-term.
- You’re Responsible. If you need a mentor, it is incumbent upon the mentee to develop the mentor to get what you need from a mentor. It’s important for you to figure them out—not the other way around.
- Listen First. Seek first to understand before seeking to be understood. As a newer person to the American workforce, seek first by listening and learning. Your mentor is not your counselor or psychologist. If you’re not asking good questions and listening, you’re probably doing it wrong.
- Invite and Accept Criticism. Criticism hurts, but is sometimes necessary to receive it in order to grow. By inviting a trusted mentor to give you honest feedback, you will become aware of your shortcomings faster so that you can adapt and grow quicker.
Here’s a word for the more “seasoned” readers. One of the best ways to give wisdom is to identify and develop a relationship with a younger mentee.
Why mentor somebody younger than you? Mentoring is an opportunity to give away what you’ve learned over the years. Mentoring is not filling up all the needs of somebody. It’s simply giving away the knowledge and wisdom you’ve acquired. Most importantly, if older mentors don’t seek to give away what they’ve learned, who will give it away? If not you, who can mentor help the next generation? If not now, when?
Before you become a mentor to somebody here are a few helpful tips for you to remember.
- Clarify Your Arrangement. When selecting somebody to mentor, be clear about expectations. What will you provide? How often will you meet? What are the areas you want to grow? Be very clear about what you can and cannot offer a mentee.
- Empty Your Cup. Andy Stanley used to say, “Your job isn’t to fill their cup. Your job is to empty yours.” Give away what you have and feel no pressure to fill all the needs in all the different areas of their lives.
- Keep on Learning. Even though you probably have more to offer a mentee, find a way to listen and learn about the mentee’s needs, values, and ways of relating to the world. This will not only help you improve your communication style, but it will help you stay in touch with next generation culture.
- Give Clear Feedback. Develop an open and honest relationship with your mentee. Be willing to tell them the hard truth. In fact, I suggest that you only mentor somebody who commits to hearing criticism and feedback from you.
Whether you’re a mentor or a mentee, you have a unique opportunity to give and receive. You can use all that you’ve learned to increase the healthy and prosperity of your home, work, and relationships. When we give and receive what we’ve learned from others, we are participating and making a difference in our city and our world.