What are you doing TODAY that will have an influence or impact the next generation?

Posted by Kemmons Wilson, Jr on March 07, 2010

Photo: Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images

Photo: Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images

How can we not afford to invest in the future of young people? We do this by mentoring.

This is a compelling question that each one of us has to account for.  How can we not afford to invest in the future of young people?  We do this by mentoring. 

Mentoring is a structured and trusting relationship that brings young people together with caring individuals who offer guidance, support and encouragement all aimed at developing the competence and character of the protégé. 

At its most basic level, mentoring helps because it guarantees a young person that there is someone who cares about them…that a person is not alone in dealing with their day-to-day worries.

And the good news is….everyone can be a mentor.  Everyone has something to offer. Every mentor has a treasure chest of experience and this is a great forum in which to share it. Mentoring is not about age, but about experience.  It is the bridge that will connect, strengthen and stabilize future generations in an increasingly complex and threatening world.  A single word focusing on mentoring is “relationship.” 

The only criterion to be a mentor is to care.  To identify a mentor in your life ask the question, “Does this person care for me?” You don’t have to be beautiful or handsome, educated, rich or socially skilled to be very meaningful to someone. 

We always need a mentor.  You are never too old to be one…or have one.  Again, perquisite is, Do you care? If you have the ability to care, you have the ability to be a mentor.

One of the terrific advantages of having a mentor is this person can serve as a Truth Teller and everyone needs a truth teller.  I’m talking about someone who will tell it like it is and not necessarily just what you want to hear. 

It is essential to have, at least, one person in your life you can talk to and who will confront you with the truth no matter what the consequences.  We all need someone who is willing to risk the entire relationship with their honest answer or assessment of a particular situation or circumstance. 

A mentor’s main purpose is to help a young person define their individual goals and find ways to achieve them.  There are two questions that a mentor needs to ask his protégé every time they meet:

1.) What are your plans and dreams?
2.) How can I help you achieve them?

These two questions will stimulate tremendous dialogue.  Remember, it is not the mentor’s agenda, it is all about the protégé’s agenda.

Mentoring should be a significant part of your legacy.  I like to say, “Prepare your replacement.” When you go-and you will go-who do you want to take your place?

To deprive a young person of your wisdom and past experience is like dying without a will.  So, I challenge you today to build into the life of another person; to give some of yourself away.

There are two lines that run through every person’s life: a life-line and a purpose-line.  Wise is the person who can combine both.  A good mentor can get you there.  James Dobson said, “Attach a boy to a good man & he seldom goes wrong.”

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The Memphis Grizzlies Charitable Foundation is committed to serving Memphis youth through education and mentoring.