Are you a mentor?

Listening to Morning Edition on the way to Pilates, the host interviewed a former skinhead recruiter, Tony McAleer, who founded Life after Hate. He had been a violent young man from a middleclass family where discipline was physical and humiliating.  He stated that he didn’t have much empathy for others until he had his first child at 23.  Being unconditionally loved and needed by another human being turned his life around.

I wonder if he had a mentor? Did you?  Many of us can cite a family member or teacher who mentored us and encouraged us as we grew up. Maya Angelou talked about her Grandmother, who always called her sister. She encouraged her when being tall wasn’t so great. She encouraged her when she became mute saying that she would have a lot to say when she decided to speak again. Are you encouraging anyone today?

I think many of us have forgotten that it takes mentors for young people to get ahead. I think we have been on our path successfully for long enough that we forget that it wasn’t always so obvious or so successful.

I see many business leaders consciously allocating time each month to teach at their church or synagogue. Some talk in high schools about how to do well in business and life. Some mentor a rising star in their organization.

I think that being a mentor is as good for you as for the ones you mentor. My sister in law who runs a charity that gives food to the homeless every Sunday in Tampa, Florida, says it probably helps the volunteers more than the homeless. It makes them feel better about themselves and their less than perfect lives.

I’m guessing that neuro- science would suggest that it is ocytocin that is produced- the feel good hormone that connects us with others. It creates empathy.

This week, reach out and mentor someone. Share some knowledge that helps another person, or maybe just listen. Listen deeply to what they have to say. t will make you both feel good.

Are you interested in Vistage?