Last night as I started to relax and reflect on my day, I opened Facebook and saw that one of my mentors (Adam Barlow) had been promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army, which is an enormous accomplishment. As is standard operating procedure in the world of social media, I liked the pictures from his promotion, wrote a quick congratulations comment on his post, and shot him a personal note in messenger (I would have called him, but he is currently in Europe). While writing this quick message, I was overcome with emotion. I was so happy for Adam and his family, so proud to have served with him, have had him pin my senior parachutist wings on me, say he is my friend, and so grateful that he had been and still is a mentor to me.
Why did witnessing a major event in someone else’s life have such an impact on me?
If this person were simply a friend, I’m sure I would have been happy for him, and probably even taken all of the same actions, but I wouldn’t have had such an emotional response. I believe the answer to this questions lies in the value of having a mentor, someone that helps you develop as a person – either professionally, personally, or both. In my case, Adam helped me develop both professionally and personally. A mentor is someone that you look to for guidance and advice, someone that is willing to tell you the blunt, honest truth, someone that is willing to push you and make you feel uncomfortable – all because they want you to succeed. The key to this is that a mentor is someone that truly cares about your success as an individual, not simply the success of the organization you are a part of. They aren’t in it for themselves, they are in it for you.
Being a mentor isn’t an easy task. It takes time and patience, it requires that you see the bigger picture, and are able to put someone else ahead of yourself. It can be thankless at times, especially when you feel like you aren’t getting through to your mentee, but don’t let that discourage you. For all of the hard days, there will be many more good days. When you are a mentor, you are not only helping the person you are mentoring, you are developing yourself as well. Additionally, through my experience, I have seen that most people who become mentors for others also have a great network of mentors that have helped them. I got to see this while looking through pictures posted from Adam’s promotion. One of his mentors was able to share in his significant life event by officiating his promotion, just as Adam had been there for many of my own life events.
I challenge everyone to think about their mentor(s) for a moment today. Think about how your life has been impacted by their influence. After doing this, think about how you can provide that same influence on someone else. If you are new to your profession or a recent graduate, look towards helping college students who have no idea what they are getting into. If you are a leader in your organization, find someone that you can connect with and become a mentor for them.
This is how we take care of our people, make them feel safe, and inspire them to grow!
Chris Duprey, MS
Director of Operations &