Dealing with the trials of young adulthood is stressful and scary. As a young adult you could be full of enthusiasm and drive or struggling with finding your purpose. Priorities are often hard to assess. You certainly have professional goals but there are personal goals as well. Who will you marry? Where will you live? Is your occupation of choice the end game or a lay over until you find the right calling? Interpersonal relationships at work are also challenging as you have professional and personal dynamics in play.
Parents and family members are the most logical go to people in these situations but there are often circumstances where they are not the best choice. Sometimes the experience needed for a particular challenge is lacking or the way you and your family members historically communicate is not conducive to achieving appropriate results.
My father died when I was eleven and my mother was a homemaker with limited education so for me finding mentors was not a choice, it was a necessity. My mentors were coaches, teachers, but also older peers. In fact some of my classmates and teammates were my most conscientious benefactors.
When I went off to college my reliance on trusted advisors continued, particularly as it related to my social development. The maturation process is different for everybody but for me it was painfully slow. Having a strong support group allowed me to mature at my own pace.
However it was when I stepped out into the real world that my mentors became indispensible. Sometimes I reached out for help and there were times that others saw me struggling or discouraged and they voluntarily came to my aid.Working is not just learning job skills it is developing a professional demeanor, cultivating interpersonal relationships, and learning how to focus and prioritize.
As the years passed I wish I could say I always followed my mentors advice but some lessons I learned the hard way. However what began to happen in a very subtle way was that I began to mentor others. Some were people who sought me out, sometimes it was me extending to others, but in many cases it was a slow evolution of an existing relationship. Casual talks became more frequent, longer, and more in depth. Over time you could see the confidence start to grow in those individuals coinciding with their maturation process.
I also noticed that it was satisfying for me to be of service to people. Sharing thoughts, ideas, and experiences, even some that were painfully acquired, was enjoyable. When you are helped you feel gratitude, but when you give help you become fulfilled.
We are by our nature social people. There is a school of thought that to be professionally successful you need to out work, out hustle, and out perform your competition. To be a great spouse you need to have the best house, the best furniture, the best vacations.To be a great parent you need to provide your child with all the resources and creature comforts they need to maintain their self esteem. But I think what defines success is how well did we serve others in need, how well did we love our life partners and support them when they felt challenged, and how firm were we with our children so that they were able to be self reliant when they had the opportunity to make their mark on the world?
When my wife and I relocated to be closer to our children a close friend gave me a little engraved sign. It had the following written on it. “Success is making a difference in the lives of others. Happiness is watching them grow because of it. Make a difference!”
Are you ready to make a difference?