Mentoring matters

MentorWhen most people arrive onto the college scene, they feel pretty accomplished (rightfully so) and proud they made it. Passing high school, getting the grants and loans, driving their own car to school, having their own dorm room–it is awesome, it is freeing, and it is new.

Unfortunately, with the new freedoms comes a new sense of hurriedness. Classroom work, social life, relationships, work, and other organizational commitments all add up together into a big mess of a hurried “schedule.” This schedule means we do things only this way and at this time.

Along with schedules come the responsibilities, whether as a leader or support member of a group, relationship, study partnership, etc. With the new freedom, new schedule, and new responsibilities comes a new “swagger.”

We are who we are making ourselves to be. We are doing it the best way we know how and like the way we do it-our way or the highway.

The problem is: high school probably did not teach us everything we need to know about life. We have never led a group that has hinged on our preparedness, never led a long lasting healthy-growing relationship, never upgraded from a job as a waiter, and never gone through financial issues by ourselves.

We are inexperienced. Having been done with my undergraduate degree for three years now, inexperience is the easiest thing someone can still point to with me. Inexperience is a norm for most all college students.

Just because you wake up for class does not mean you are ready for the real world. Nor because you study for three hours a day for one class does it mean you are going to be a boss at your brand new job after college. Being busy all day does not constitute that you are ready for growing a family.

There is a fine line between accomplishing things and being effective at what you do. Making an impact with what you do, as opposed to just doing a lot of stuff, will make you succeed or plateau or decline in life. How do we make an impact at what we do? Mentoring.

Yes, mentoring, what a boring word. Yes, sitting down and not hearing your voice and your thoughts for the time span of a coffee date or lunch meet up will better your effectiveness. Yes, thoughts from older men and women, not necessarily old but older, people will help you grow in how well you perform in your life.

Otherwise, you will be only listening to you-your thoughts on topics, your understanding of the news, your view points on leadership, or following leaders, your knowledge on subjects at work, your insight to how to best love your relationship partner.

Sadly, you (and I), have only existed for about 20-25 years in this world, and the result is inexperience. Our views, thoughts, and opinions are typically raw, untested by the world, and developed by only us, and we are certainly far from perfect.

Why listen to older folks? Well, they have been through similar stages of life and have encountered similar problems, especially if the mentor you seek out is of the same trade, style, and affinity that you are.

This does not mean they have to change you into a miniature version of themselves, nor does it mean that they are right and that you are wrong. This means that they have an understanding that can add tidbit benefits to the way you go about life and broaden the way you approach situations.

How do you find a mentor? First, look around you. Is there someone two years older than you, or five years, or fifty years, that you respect to some degree and can honestly say, “hey, this person is better than me at a few things; I could learn from them.”

Second, approach them and ask them if they would sit down, have lunch or coffee and learn about them and how they would handle situations you are in now. If they say no, then repeat the first step. Easy, right?

What to do when you are mentored: Listen to them, and be open to new views; do not let yourself find yourself nixing and discrediting everything the mentor is saying. Ask questions–lots of them; be vulnerably unknowledgeable. Lastly, speak your opinions.

Being inexperienced is something many college students will overlook. They will take a great plunge into the world that will demand them to adjust, and many will be discouraged and feel like quitting. Our generation is increasingly becoming known to quit jobs.

Take time at least once a month to sit down with someone who can help you walk through this life and punch inexperience in the smacker.

– Michael McGee, Contributing Writer


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