It never occurred to me that my first summer selection of ‘fun books’ would be a business book. The cover design doesn’t look like a biz book.
Imagine my surprise when I flipped to Chapter One of Leslie Odom, Jr.’s first book and found the title “MENTORING.”
A young, successful, millennial celebrity’s first and foundational lesson for all the readers he hoped to attract to his new book was:
Get a mentor.
I’m not sure if I was star-struck, awe-struck or just swooning, but I was impressed.
Mr. Odom’s insights as a mentee, resurface multiple times in his book because he invites mentors into his life as he identifies a need or goal that they can help him reach. Odom says:
“The best mentors will open and read from the private pages of their lives so that you may learn from their mistakes. Sure, you can glean valuable info from their success, but their failures (if they’re generous enough to share them) can save you years of heartache and help you make informed decisions when you find yourself at a crossroads—in my experience.”
When successful people, like Leslie Odom, Jr. begin to identify the roles that mentors have played in their lives, they create a market for more mentors. A qualified mentor who asks good questions, provokes big dreams and provides sound logic to make the dreams doable, helps others at a crossroad!
Who makes the best mentor?
Baby Boomers may have to re-learn the art of mentoring because many created professional worlds where ambition fueled their success. Though they have a lot of information, they can sometimes be seen as untrustworthy. If you find a good one, they can be a wealth of wisdom.
GenXers from the computer era that began in 1980 became the mentors for the greedy Boomers. A little reverse mentoring, but it worked! Many GenXers have been largely overlooked their whole careers, but wish they had had a mentor. For that reason, they make some of the very best mentors.
Millennials have been raised to believe in themselves, but they have seen their GenXer parents have career and financial setbacks. They are cautious about who they trust, and very open to mentoring relationships–both giving and receiving–or at least, stalking example-setters they consider trustworthy.
Generation Z is primed to change the world before they even learn the ropes! They will need more mentors than previous generations because they are starting to use their influence before the legal voting age. This is the norm in this generation in numbers unlike any previous generation. Without experience, they could burn out quickly, will need to glean from seasoned mentors they can trust, and be consistently encouraged.
The choice is ultimately yours and if you make a choice that isn’t the best one, make another choice. This is mentoring, not marriage.
When my summer reads are over and it’s time to go back to my normal activities, I will enter my sixteenth year as a volunteer mentor. For the first ten years, I mentored thinking this was a stepping stone to whatever came next. But I was wrong.
Mentoring is what I do. It’s what I was created to do. I just had to wait till I was older to realize it.
As Generation Z matures to adulthood and motherhood, this enormous group of young people with big hearts, big goals, and bigger dreams need your experience to help them achieve change previous generations could not.
Could it be that mentoring is what you were created to do? Do you have a heart for the young adult, or the student, the young mom, or someone who might learn from your mistakes? Could you share in the comments what holds you back from offering yourself as a mentor? I promise I will use your answers to create materials that will help you succeed as a mentor!