At this moment we’re still immersed in frantic pace of the holidays. Fun, family, friends and fellowship leave us exhausted but, hopefully, happy.  Soon we will turn to face the new year.  I always find great refreshment in the cyclical parceling of time: days, weeks, months, years. Each offers a new beginning and new hope—another chance to get it right!

Even if we don’t write out specific resolutions at the turn of the new year, there’s always this little nudge in the back of our minds. Subconsciously or consciously we long to change the trajectory of life for the better. The plan for change may be a major overhaul to launch life in a different direction or it may be a subtle refinement. Either way, we’re thinking about renewal. But before we roll up our sleeves and jump into the details of goals and action steps, I want to take a deep dive into a prerequisite- the mentor mandate.

The Mentor Mandate

This message emerged for me in the 1990’s during a series of coaching sessions. They were aimed at preparing me for my new position as branch manager. My coach first taught me to re-think my goals. I learned to place my priority on what I wanted personally and then fitting corporate goals into my plan. Initially this re-focusing felt strange. Over time, I came to understand that career success in the absence of clear personal goals is counter productive.

Next, she taught me to think of my personal goals in three phases. Short term happens within the next year. Intermediate term plans for the next 1 – 5 years. Long term looks at the next 5 – 10 years. Each goal was to be a clear statement of what I would acquire or accomplish. It included a definite date for completion – year, month and day. Objection!! I didn’t have a crystal ball! I couldn’t possibly predict results with this kind of pinpoint accuracy. My coach helped me differentiate between predicting the future and creating a target. Aha! I understood and followed her instructions.

Finally, she asked me to identify a woman who had already achieved the majority of my targeted goals and ask her to mentor me. Objection, again. Aren’t successful women too busy to mentor? Don’t the ones who want to be mentors hand pick their mentees and initiate the relationship? Wrong on both accounts. I learned that most accomplished women would love the opportunity to mentor and would be flattered by my request. So, my coach encouraged me to choose wisely and be prepared to explain precisely what I wished to gain from the mentoring relationship. Then she commissioned me to “go forth and get mentored!”

The search was on!

It was exhilarating, and the wisdom gained from it served me well. Rather than finding one mentor to suit all my needs, I was drawn to specific mentors for the various facets and phases of life. An experienced manager from another branch became a corporate mentor when I served as a branch manager. My new boss was a fabulously effective and supportive mentor when I stepped into the Training Director position. A friend with sons a few years older than mine became a valuable parenting mentor. A Women’s Ministry Leader guided my transition out of the work world and into retirement. These were “mentors for the moment” who conducted me smoothly through life’s adventures and challenges.

Submit to the process.

In my retirement years, I rely heavily on the same kind of mentoring mandate in my financial literacy training. But I find that many people want and seek mentoring without understanding and submitting to the process. For example, one of the saddest statements I ever heard was from a young man who came to my husband and me to discuss a financial project. In the course of the conversation, I mentioned the multi-billionaire who is the chairman of the company that we’ve partnered with. The young man stated that he was “not really impressed with billionaires”. I was shocked and saddened by his statement. After all, when we’re learning about money, who better to mentor us in the process than a billionaire. 

Every billionaire I’ve ever studied had many powerful lessons for me. Some were self-made; they did not come from wealth. But they taught themselves to create value in the world and got rewarded handsomely for their work. Those who inherited money had a storehouse of legacy knowledge that held many teachings for me. Even wealthy mob bosses who manage to navigate within their culture, stay alive, and grow their business can teach us valuable lessons. (That’s why movies like The Godfather are so popular.)

My commitment to mentoring.

This has led me to align with a wonderful non-profit organization called Christian Women’s Job Corps. Its aim is to provide necessary workplace skills to women seeking a second chance at life and career. In addition to learning computer skills, resume writing and interview skills, students are required to participate actively in the mentorship program. They meet weekly with a “journey partner” who serves as encourager and mentor throughout the school semester. Often these relationships remain intact even after graduation. I love my role as Team Leader for this mentoring function. I fully believe that it may be the most important lesson that the students can learn about the workplace and about life. 

Looking ahead to the new year, I have goals to grow, develop and accomplish more than I have at any time in the past. I am convinced that the best tool for reaching money goals as well as other life goals is a secret strategy that goes mostly overlooked. But now the secret is out of the bag. I am encouraging all of us to create mentoring relationships to support our hopes and dreams and plans and schemes. Mentoring is not optional, but quite necessary for a happy and prosperous 2023!

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