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Sunday Sun: Thinking About My Mentors and Being One

After reading an article from Gino Wickman where he reflected on his mentors, I was immediately sent down memory lane looking back on mine. If you’ve followed my blog or paodcast for long, you likely have heard me tell the story of lifelong mentorship.

Being raised the only child of a hard working single Mom, I had dozens of mentors. Mom had the wisdom to recruit and surround me with men who could help me grow. It became such an integral part of my life that I never feared reaching out to add mentors to my circle as the years went by.

To this day, I can start doing something and recall one of the mentors showing me how. George was my woodworking, handyman, golfing buddy mentor. David was tennis and fishing. Jack was scoutmaster, character builder, man of living faith. Col. Hal Gaines was leadership, integrity, and good humor influence. Wayne Stark was visionary, dreamer, and do-er. And the list is as deep as it is wide. There are so many more, but you get the idea.

As I think about mentoring, I have known for a long time that it is my turn to be the guy. And I have when the moment arises. Yet I always wonder if I’ve done it as impactful as the ones I had. Only time will tell.

To be specific, here are thoughts I am pondering for my mentees in 2023.

Stopping the Noise

The world around us is filled with noise. You can blame social media, technology, and mainstream news for the clutter in our lives. It is just that – overwhelming clutter. If you try to pay attention to all your pings, feeds, emails, pokes, swipes, nudges, and follows, you may just go mad in the process.

You have to be careful. What we feed our brains becomes the neural pathways that shape future thoughts and ideas. You are what you eat is not quite the explanation, but it says a lot. I think it is more about the message substance. Darkness or doubt, fear and trepidation are all over the media. Disaster and dread sell headlines. So beware.

I have known very successful people who simply turn it off. They stay unplugged for LOOONNNGGG periods of time. When they do plug back in, it is for very specific reasons.

The Ability to Think Critically

I may call this a pet peeve. I routinely encourage clients to learn more about critical thinking. Our mainstream education systems have stopped helping children learn critical thinking skills. There is too much ‘teaching to the test.’ I’ve begun discussions with 20- and 30-year-olds on this topic who have no idea what critical thinking even means.

It is important because that is how major business decisions get made. Critical thinking must be deployed and engaged to allow the effective processing of information and a wide variety of inputs to arrive at a conclusion that makes sense, serves its purpose, and wins the day of the business.

Catching the AI Wave

We all know AI is looming and growing fast. But what is anyone who is simply trying to grow a private business needing to know? On this topic I am swimming as fast as I can to learn, know and grow with it. I’ve always been an early adopter of new things. It means I have suffered the BetaMax, the flip phone, and the Blackberry, but I also learned HTML, web design, and some other cool things along the way. (but I admit to balking at blockchain and bitcoin). Hmmm – I just saw something here. Maybe “B” words are fails – BetaMax, Blackberry, blockchain, bitcoin. Is that a pattern? I digress

I look at AI the same way I have looked at other tech. When the big guys are investing, I need to take it seriously.

Becoming a Better leader

Last, but certainly not least, becoming a better leader is big on my mind. The world is hurting for solid leaders. Not people with agendas, but people who see the value in a cause, mission or purpose and step up to lead the effort to get there.

Critical issues that face our communities, states and countries are being derailed and stalled because of agendas and lack of good leadership. Various funding sources drive outcomes not the people tasked with leading the effort. And, sadly, the public stage initiatives do not get the benefit of good experienced leaders because no good leader wants to get in the middle of the mess.

If more people were willing to step up right where they are and be the leader a group needs, we could see so much more progress toward a greater good. Call me naive, but I believe that with all my heart.

Summary

So that’s it. As I mentor folks, these are some of my thoughts. Levae me a comment if you disagree or think I’ve missed something.

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