The following is a guest post by Bill Mann, who writes and speaks on inter-generational mentoring.
When people approach me about mentoring, I usually tell them that one of the key ingredients to being a successful mentor is to put your pride in your back pocket and take a large dose of humility. Just like a vitamin, humility goes a long way to forge a relationship with the next generation.
Every relationship has at least four levels of communication. These levels are separate and usually are done sequentially. The levels are:
Why is this important? Well, one of the highest values of the next generation is that they crave authenticity. They want to interact with people who are real with them and willing to share their lives – both the good and the bad. That, of course, requires mentors to develop an ability to be transparent.
Regi Campbell writes a weekly blog for Radical Mentoring. In a recent blog, he observed that the intensity of young people increases when your stories are about failure you have experienced. They don’t take well to what he calls “victory laps” which often looks like self-promotion than being authentic. I agree.
Regi ascribes the power of “failure stories” to the following (I have added one at the end):
The challenge is straightforward. Mentors need to be willing to express humility and vulnerability to their mentees. They want to know that you messed up, and that you learned from your mistakes. They will make their own mistakes, but possibly not the same ones you did. In addition, you will develop an ability to communicate at a deeper level.
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Dr. Jolene Erlacher is a wife, mommy, author, speaker, college instructor and coffee drinker who is passionate about empowering the next generation of leaders for effective service!