Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Value of Mentoring

January is National Mentoring Month.  Recently, I read a great book called Halftime by Bob Buford. It discusses how the first half of life is spent chasing success and challenges that the second half should be about chasing significance.  

As a pirate looking at 40 and Halftime, I’m sure that I am not alone when I look back and am able to see the relation between causes and effects. Perhaps over the holidays you took time to reflect a bit on decisions made and people that help shape you. 

I had the incredible experience of interning for the Florida Marlins and Florida Panthers while in college. Working in the Broward Mall, I met Bill Beck and struck up a conversation over baseball and life. For a kid that loves baseball, talking with someone who had worked in Major League Baseball for years was a treat. Turns out he worked for the Florida Marlins and a few months later needed an intern when he moved to the Panthers.  He called and offered me the job.  I learned so much about professionalism from him. How you can be kind and respectful and get ahead.  How to dress the part of a professional.  A few years later he mentored the Marlins management by suggesting a manager named Jack McKeon that he had worked with while with the Padres to a floundering 2003 team. The rest is history.

The Panthers led to the Marlins and working for Jorge Arrizurieta.  Jorge was tougher, but sometimes the best mentors are the ones that see potential when you don’t and pull it out of you.  Jorge came from the political world.  He proof read every line, corrected each gaffe (and at 20 there are plenty) smoothed the edges a bit. How you addressed people, dealt with deadlines, took ownership of an issue. Instilling that it’s not what you say, it’s what people hear and feel.

Mentors hold you accountable. They take strokes off your game.  They are also humble and vulnerable.  Nobody wants to hear about someones perfect life.  The best stories are the ones where someone overcame something.  Do you want to learn from the attorney that proclaims to have never failed or the one that has more times than they can count and what they learned from it?

Dr. Robert Lewis talks about “mentoring up”, and “mentoring down”.  Only you know your true blind spots, passions, and strengths at Halftime.  If you want to be a better spouse, parent, attorney, maybe have a stronger walk in faith, look for folks that are a few years ahead of you and are where you want to be.  I have yet to ask someone to teach me about what they have learned in life and been turned down. Why learn the hard way?
Perhaps you have noticed someone that reminds you of yourself 15-20 years ago.  Take them to lunch. Ask them about their dreams and help if you can.  To a 20 year old kid at the Broward Mall it made all of the difference in the world.