“If I had known then what I know now,” said everyone.
My most recent blog focused on this generations obsessive need for validation, particularly in relation to our definition of success. This was based on something I am very passionate about, this being the education system and misguided milestones. I rambled on about children of today, being bombarded with pressure to succeed which leads to a generation of validation seekers. Through no fault of their own young individuals are lead to feel insignificant and inadequate and therefore inaccurately measuring their understanding of what success is. Now that was just a segway which leads nicely on to today’s rant.
How many times have we said, “If only I had known that back then” If I were to hazard a guess, I would say you don’t have enough fingers and toes. The point I am trying to present you with is the need for mentors, advisors and supporters. We all have interests we want to invest in, yet sourcing someone with a vested interest in investing in our interest doesn’t seem to be of interest (yes, I’ve been sitting on that one for a while). The power of mentorship is incredibly understated. Little time is spent on helping build others up, there is a tendency to want to maintain the monopoly of knowledge, as opposed to sharing. Farcical, I know.
I am a big believer that everyone has something to offer, but it’s our inability to nurture and invest in finding that out which leads to not only inefficiency in the workplace but also wasted talent. Mentors have a huge role to play, people need people — people do business with people! What I am trying to suggest is that young and ambitious individuals need someone to guide them, provide them with expertise, inside information and facilitate their development. Those who are accomplished owe it to those who aspire to be accomplished, to help continue learning.
Where would Richard Branson be if he hadn’t asked his mentor, Sir Freddie Laker, for guidance during his struggle to get Virgin Atlantic off the ground? How would Mark Zuckerberg have faired if he had not spoken to Steve Jobs for advice on how to build a team that focuses on “high quality and good things”. Mentors are invaluable, it’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign that you’re aware and conscious of the need to learn things that you cannot teach yourself.
The only use of learning is to pass it on.
I sat down with my sister the other day, she is off to university next year. I asked her why she was going, she reluctantly replied “because that’s how I am going to get a good job” I then challenged her with “what is a good job?” she shrugged her shoulders and said, “dunno, I think I’ve got cool a plan, but it’ll probably sound silly”.
This saddened me. But this is the problem, everyone has got a “cool plan” they just don’t know what to do with it. There are a plethora of hungry, creative, raw entrepreneurs out there, who have value to add, but they need the guidance of the wiser and trusted heads to aid them in making a concept a reality.
It made me think. I wonder where I would be if: five years ago I knew how to give a proper handshake; if I had taken up the option to do a sandwich course at university; if I was taught the importance of saving money and building up equity? I would probably have a mortgage and own a house by now… on second thoughts, looking at the state of this country, probably not. What would the outcome have been if I had given an “adequate” answer at a job interview when I was asked “what is your view on diplomacy in the Middle Ages” pssh whatever that means.
These are just a few examples, personal to me, but I am sure we all have experiences of little nuggets of information (which I’d love to read about), that had we known, we would have had a better chance of reaching our goals.
Sometimes just having someone believe in you and provide you with more insight is enough to give you a sense of direction.
Having said this, I now dedicate some time to mentoring some of my younger siblings, friends, young graduates, random strangers, anybody who wants it really. It’s really important we empower people with the right toolkit to exercise their creativity. Let’s give back, let us provide that soundboard, that reference point that is going to allow the next generation not to have their ambition stifled. We do not need to be a community of information hoarders.
Luckily for me, I work for a company that allows me to be ambitious, inquisitive and challenge the status quo, but where would I be now if I had been presented with this opportunity earlier?
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, ay.
So, I leave you with this question, are you a channel, or just a beneficiary?