Perspective and context are valuable characteristics to sound judgment and good leadership.
Modern culture has mostly lost a tradition maintained by ancient cultures. Ancient cultures offered a place of respect and value to older generations within their tribes. They were the ones who made decisions about community life, religious practice and tradition, and very often justice and law. The older generations also carried with them the responsibility to connect the next generation with the past.
This provided a foundation of shared meaning and purpose that served as a moral compass as well as defined personal roles and responsibilities.
Perspective and context are valuable characteristics to sound judgment and good leadership. Some might call this a type of wisdom tradition.
THE WISDOM TRADITION
In our quest to tuck older generations into the pockets and edges of our lives, we’ve lost this. Perhaps the last vestiges of this in practical application are the apprenticeship programs often found in the trades and, in a slightly different form, in professions such as doctors and lawyers.
As a result, our culture doesn't do an excellent job of providing insight and perspective for the next generation of leaders. This is why mentorship is so incredibly important. It fills the gap of experience and tradition that only comes over time. And this time-tested wisdom is what gives you and me confidence we are moving in the right direction, especially when it doesn’t feel or seem like we are.
But if you’re not sure where to start when it comes to mentorship, let me address some of the most common questions I get from others.
Why does mentorship matter?
Mentors are people who are farther down the road than you are currently. Experience is incredibly valuable—sometimes even more than knowledge itself.
Mentors are leaders who are committed to investing in you to help you release your full potential. Competency is only one aspect of leadership. If you’re not developing as a person, you’ll be limited in your potential for impact.
Mentors are coaches who will hold you accountable or push you forward when necessary. Everyone needs someone to call them out from time to time. You need that voice in your life.
How do I find a mentor?
Ask someone you admire or respect. They might say no. But they might also say yes.
Talk to others who are currently being mentored or mentoring others. Find out where they found their current or past mentors.
Use your network to surface opportunities. Make a few phone calls and send a few text messages. I bet you end up with multiple names.
What should I expect?
Not every mentorship is a long series of meetings. Sometimes it’s just one meeting. Other times, mentors last for a long season.
You get out of it what you put into it. Do the work, and let your mentor help you perfect it.
Pay it forward. As you are mentored, look for opportunities to do the same for others. It will enhance your experience and will multiply your impact. And you will join the wisdom tradition that has benefited humanity since the beginning of time.
The most significant encouragement I can give you is just to get started.
Don't expect a "big bang" of revelation. Just focus on how you can learn from others who are farther along than you are. Show up every time you get the chance to meet. And when it's time, pay it forward by mentoring others.
Without a doubt, those who grow the most are surrounded by strong mentors and have been for some time. I promise you won’t regret your investment of time and energy. And the wisdom you gain in the process will be invaluable.
Soon, it’ll be time for you to continue the tradition.