The older I get (I am in my late 40's - when did that happen?) I find myself passionate about mentoring young people around me for leadership. If we wait until they grow up it will be too late. There are so many things competing for their future and if we don't seize the opportunity to grab them, the world will. This is a monumental task that isn't easy. It takes work and a lot of it. Every one of us have young people within our sphere of influence. I believe they are there not by chance, but by divine appointment. All that's needed is for us to step up to the plate and go for it. Here are some things I am learning as I determine to mentor those around me.
#1 - Don't be afraid. Jump in head first and go for it. Teenagers are like sharks - they smell fear. If you're afraid of them they won't trust you. I'll admit, working with teenagers is one of the scariest things I have ever done but I am finding it is one of the most rewarding things I will ever do.
#2 - Be patient. Developing young people takes time and a tremendous amount of patience. You won't see results overnight. Their attention span is short and you have to keep them on track. At times it will appear that you aren't making any progress but keep going.
#3 - Believe in them 100%. Teenagers believe what you tell them about themselves. Most of them don't get any positive encouragement. In fact, most teenagers think my generation views their generation as lazy, stupid and unable to make wise choices. It's up to us to show them that is not true. Convince them they can do anything they put their minds to and I guarantee they won't disappoint you.
#4 - Let them make mistakes. One of the biggest mistakes a mentor can make is to never let people fail. They will never learn if they never fail. Teach them not to be afraid to make mistakes. Failure is the path to learning. I have learned more from those who have mentored me from their mistakes than I have from their successes.
#5 - Don't try to be like them. This is another big mistake mentors make. They don't need a buddy, they need a leader. If we try to talk like them, dress like them and be like them, we only lose their respect and will be the butt of their jokes. I believe this generation of young people are tired of leaders trying to come down to their level and are hungry for someone to bring them up to a higher level. They need to know that there's more to life than what they see. Don't ever tell a teenager that these the best years of their lives. That sucks all hope out of life. They need to know that life does get better and that there is much to look forward to in life.
Let's determine to raise up a new generation of leaders among us, a generation that will accomplish much more than ours could ever dream of. It's up to us! They are waiting.
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