You know you’re old when you open with a reference from the 1984 classic, “The Karate Kid”. Who remembers Mr. Miyagi befriending the new kid in the apartment complex, Daniel? Those famous lines: “wax on, wax off”, “sand the floor” and “paint the fence”. A frustrated Daniel just wanted to learn karate as fast as he could in an effort to defend himself against the Cobra Kai. Instead, he was taught lessons by the master of patience and intent. Expecting nothing in return — with the exception of a free waxed car, a sanded deck and a freshly painted fence — Mr. Miyagi contributed to Daniel-san being a champion. Ok, so that’s Hollywood and you knew it would be a great ending. Here’s the reality:
We need more Mr. Miyagis in the world today.
We need “masters” willing to step up and mentor those who strive to succeed. We are at a critical point where we need more existing leaders inspiring aspiring leaders if we hope to build a stronger next generation of leaders.
“Masters”? Are you looking at me?
How many people can one person positively affect through successful leadership and mentoring? Let me give you an example based on the National Football League. Head Coach Bill Walsh (coached from 1960 – 1994), who made a name for himself with the San Francisco 49ers by winning three Super Bowls, has a monstrous coaching tree of 15 former assistants who all went on to be Hall of Fame coaches in their own right. Their successes pointed back to the way Walsh led. Do you think he planned to be a mentor? Or just be a great coach who shared his knowledge with those who worked with him?
It simply takes a willingness to pass on lessons
and share knowledge to be a mentor.
It’s all about gratitude: a thankfulness for what you have achieved and the success that has come with it. It goes beyond what is expected at work. It is a one-on-one relationship to guide another who will make an impact. Think back to all of the hands on your back that pushed you along the way at any given time during your journey. How about the ones who reached out from in front to pull you up? If we don’t guide the next generation, who will?
If integrity is important to you, then passing along your wisdom will be second nature. How many times have you uttered the words “if I only knew then what I know now…”? Give somebody that gift.
Now, let me be clear — all those who are on the path to leadership need to experience failure, challenges, adversity and doubt. We all must face our fears: mediocrity, loneliness (leading can be truly lonely at times), and fatigue. But what if you could contribute to the lesson? Imagine mentoring others simply through “guided discovery” to set them apart.
Imagine those you mentor five, ten, even 20 years later. Think about the lives they may be able to change as a result of your willingness and encouragement to help someone grow. The possibilities are endless. They will not forget your role, and they, in turn, will feel a desire to pay it forward. THIS is how we change the world — one great leader at a time.
As professionals, leaders and good people, we owe it to others and ourselves to give back a portion of the rewards we have been blessed with. What better way to show your gratitude than to be the person who doesn’t allow somebody to quit right before a breakthrough was about to occur.
If you have been blessed with fortitude and talent,
it is not only your gift,
but your responsibility to share it.
You surround yourself with like-minded people for a reason. They make you better at everything you do – family, work, friendships. Bring new people into your circle, and let them discover your amazing stories of struggle and success. Give them a perspective that no class, book, seminar or training could provide. You were constantly in a state of self-awareness evaluating and learning as you developed the skills necessary to become an effective leader, and that’s where they are now.
You learned to embrace failure and make it a tool for success. You learned the unselfish art of passing along the attention that success brings to your team rather than to yourself. You learned to lead by example, which earned you trust and respect. Now it’s time to share that learning.
Don’t waste the opportunity to assist another in their quest. Maybe it’s somebody who works for you, in whom you see a passion and drive that reminds you of yourself. Or perhaps you have a friend who is aspiring to lead – do the same unto them that was done to you. Reach out and mentor somebody deserving without expecting anything in return. The rewards you reap later in life will far outweigh anything you invest right now.