(Part 4 of the Series)
In Part 1 of this series last week we looked at what a mentor is and does. In Part 2 we looked at ways to find a mentor and in Part 3 we looked at how to be a mentor. In this article, we will talk about wether you are an mentee or a mentor it´s a win-win situation never the less.
Making a difference in the lives of others is one of the keys to fulfillment. Susan Krauss found this out in her study of happiness in midlife adults. No matter what their job, the most fulfilled were the people who were reaching out to the young and helping them through life hurdles.
By helping young colleagues, students, friends, and family members, midlife and older adults provide valuable insights based on their own life experiences, insights that can’t be easily transmitted through "book learning."
There is all kinds of advice that the experienced can give to the novice ranging from proper behavior in new situations to hands-on skills to succeed in a given profession. In fact, you don’t even have to be that old or experienced to pass along the knowledge you’ve acquired. I’ve seen many junior and senior undergrads help "mentor" their first-year and sophomore classmates. You don’t have to reach that far down the age hierarchy to pass the torch.
Passing along knowledge from one generation (defined loosely) to the next is a central feature of what psychologist Erik Erikson called "generativity." He believed that the feeling of connection you derive from mentoring helps your ego develop the value of caring. If you don’t develop this quality, you run the risk of what he called "stagnation."
My advice is: Don’t give up on the young. Don’t label them any more than you would like to be labeled. And when a young person appears disrespectful, don’t take it as a sign to write off an entire generation. The person you will be writing off is– yourself.