Traditionally, as a society we think of any “mentor” as someone who is older and presumably wiser. While I have had mentors who were both older than me AND who happened to be very intelligent, some of my greatest mentors have been younger than I am. This may sound odd to some, especially if you were raised in a traditional setting where the young always take the guidance of the elders. I have also, at times taken the guidance of elders. However...
I do not choose mentors based on age as a variable
Because of this, I have left myself open to learning from anyone, regardless of the amount of experience they bring to the table of life. Instead, I am interested in the quality of their experiences and their intent for sharing.
I am always open to feedback from someone, when they have had profound experiences and are openly sharing their perspective in the hope of having a positive impact.
Let me introduce you to my two children, Sam and Nick.
I did not see myself as being mentored by my children when they were small. I saw things traditionally because it was how things had been when I was a child. As my children grew, my wife and I experienced all the glory and growing pains which occur with any child growing up. As our daughter began to experience different forms of trauma as a high school and university student, I began to experience this trauma vicariously.
It was during these times of trauma, during and after the adversity, that I began to understand the strength my daughter possessed.
It inspired me and it was at this time that her informal mentorship of me began. Today we mentor each other.
As our son made his way through his high school experience, he began to share his earlier traumatic experiences in elementary school. This ended up having an emotional impact on him during high school. As he began college, started his own business, and continued to work at a restaurant, I began to notice his ability to choose his emotional state, be a role model for others, and continue to choose kindness and compassion in moments when it was not so easy to do so.
It was during these times, that I began to understand the strengths of my son, and how I could learn from him.
This also inspired me and it was at this time that my son’s informal mentorship of me began. Today we mentor each other.
To try and describe with words to you what it is like to have this kind of relationship with my own children is difficult. There is a simultaneous sense of trust, and willingness to risk with our own vulnerability. This has fostered a profound friendship, and today we are all coaching and being coached. We are colleagues and we truly feel felt and seen by each other.
We see the best in each other, and this I believe helps us see the best in ourselves.
I encourage you to be open to mentorship from anyone who is bringing an authentic self of wanting to help, along with a quality of experience which can help illuminate new perspectives for you.
Thank you Sam and Nick
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