Jonny and I were talking this week about how different mentorship is today from thirty years ago. I had listened to a podcast episode on Entrepreneur On Fire, episode 467. John Lee Dumas talks with Norm Bour about how the generations interact. It’s a fascinating conversation that you could listen to here.
As I listened to it, I thought of Jonny and me. I am a baby boomer, and he is a millennial. We have forged a wonderful partnership. We both have strengths and weaknesses. Hopefully we complement each other, at least generationally. He has an understanding of his culture and a desire to change the world. I have experience and wisdom, and a desire to change the oil every 3K miles. Okay, and the world!
But seriously now folks… there are some very obvious differences between mentorship today and mentorship thirty years ago. Here are three:
The first of the obvious differences in mentorship between today and thirty years ago is the ability for mentoring to go both ways. When I was twenty, my mentor would tell me what was up. He would tell me how things were, what I should think, do, say, and how I should act. He told me what to believe and, if I was lucky, why. I was the mentee, the newbie, the greenhorn, the Mr. Wet-Behind-The-Ears. I was just supposed to listen, and learn.
Today, millennials can mentor up. We allow that. We let them. The boomers know that they don’t know everything, and they allow the millennials to mentor them in areas where they themselves are sharp. This humility on the part of the mentor is a very good thing. It allows both parties to go, as Andy Stanley says, further faster.
A second difference is that we don’t expect millennials to be perfect. We want them to make mistakes. Doggone it, we expect them to! We know they will, and when they do, it’s okay. And they don’t expect us as mentors to be perfect either. It’s all good here – we learn from each other’s successes and failures. It’s okay, we don’t even have to take a chill pill! Thirty years ago weakness and failure was a bad thing. You wanted, and needed, to get it right. That kind of pressure is much less today.
A third difference is that the Internet has leveled the playing field. We both have enormous access to unlimited information. We don’t have all the special tapes, workbooks, and handouts in our office waiting to let them out piecemeal to our mentees. Nope. They have it all already. It’s all online. So the playing field is quite level in terms of information access and appropriation.
So, mentoring goes both ways, neither of us has to be perfect, and we both have unlimited access to information and growth.
How about your mentoring relationships? Maybe you don’t even use the “mentor” vocabulary, and that’s okay. How are you doing training and raising up the next generation of leaders? Can I encourage you to engage the millennials? Get to know them, work with them, and learn from them. It’s truly a great partnership – one that will keep your 200church from stagnancy and complacency, and if you're like Jonny and me, it will provide a few fireworks as well!
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