Why You Need (To Be) a Mentor
I have been very fortunate to have mentors throughout my life. For whatever reason, I have always been drawn to the wisdom of those older than me (mostly men) who I have sought counsel and critique … both professionally and personally.
It’s been a tremendous blessing in my life, and it has made me a better person, father and business partner because of the wisdom and insight I have been given over the years.
I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting in the past several months. I’m now 50 years old, and I’m finding that where I once was the “young buck” trying to make my mark in the world, my thoughts are now turning to passing on what I’ve learned to others.
Perhaps, this blog is one of those ways of passing that on.
Yes, I know … I still have a lot of living and learning to do. Yet, I really think it’s my responsibility to start mentoring the next generation coming up, both professionally and personally.
In fact, I think you also have a mentoring responsibility.
If you are young, I urge you to seek out older folks in your profession who you respect and ask them to mentor you. Don’t wait for them to come to you, be proactive and find someone.
Ask them to meet with you regularly so that you can build trust and actually develop a relationship of mutuality. That is key, because as much as you need him or her to mentor you, they need to mentor.
Yes, you heard me right … they (folks in my generation) need to mentor you. It may not be something they have thought about, but a mentor will find tremendous joy in passing down their wisdom and knowledge to you … they just might not know it yet.
And to those of us who are a bit older, as I just told the younger ones, you need to mentor. I’m sorry, but I feel strongly about this. This is not an option. I’m tired of the “older generation” complaining about the “younger generation.”
What greater way to pass on all of that great knowledge and insight then to mentor?
You have so much to offer others in our profession and in life. If you are like Richard and me, you didn’t get a degree in nonprofit management or fundraising. You probably had never heard of such a thing. You learned this great work by doing—by making a ton of mistakes, falling flat on your face and getting back up.
Well, you have too much to give to not pass it on. And, you don’t have to wait for one of those “young bucks” or “buckettes” to approach you.
You can offer to take them out for coffee or lunch and start the conversation. If you are sincere, vulnerable and have an open heart, your wisdom and counsel will be accepted.
You have a responsibility to be either mentor or mentee—or both. Do each other a favor, get together, talk, and care for one another. You will be better for it.
Jeff Schreifels is the principal owner of Veritus Group — an agency that partners with nonprofits to create, build and manage mid-level fundraising, major gifts and planned giving programs. In his 32-plus year career, Jeff has worked with hundreds of nonprofits, helping to raise more than $400 million in revenue.