What I love about my job is that I have regular conversations about meaning, purpose and dreams. A few weeks ago I met a man who told a story I shall never forget.
When he was in third grade, his schoolteacher told his mom that he’d never amount to much. “Lower your expectations,” his mother was advised. (Can you imagine!)
But, he added, there were three adults in his community that supported him even when others had given up on him. A Barber, a Pastor and a Neighbor were there for him through the years, making sure he understood his homework, thought about his future, and shared his report cards.
“They held my dreams for me until I could hold them myself,” the man said. Today he’s an accomplished leader in a large nonprofit.
Mentoring shows up in so many ways. How do we “hold dreams for others until they can hold them for themselves?”
P.S. Join a community of mentorship and learning at a Courage & Renewal program.
The Human Dance of Mentoring: Reflection by Parker J. Palmer
Looking back, I realize that I was blessed with mentors at every crucial stage of my young life, at every point where my identity needed to grow: in adolescence, in college, in graduate school, and early in my professional career. But a funny thing happened on the way to full adulthood: the mentors stopped coming. For several years I waited for the next one in vain, and for several years my own growth was on hold.
Then I realized what was happening. I was no longer an apprentice, so I no longer needed mentors. It was my turn to become a mentor to someone else. I needed to turn around and look for the new life emerging behind me, to offer to younger people the gift that had been given to me when I was young. As I did, my identity and integrity had new chances to evolve in each new encounter with my students’ lives.
Mentors and apprentices are partners in an ancient human dance, and one of teaching’s great rewards is the daily chance it gives us to get back on the dance floor. It is the dance of the spiraling generations, in which the old empower the young with their experience and the young empower the old with new life, reweaving the fabric of the human community as they touch and turn.
– from The Courage to Teach
How might you engage in a life-giving “dance” with someone of a different generation?