How to Forge a Mentoring Relationship

How to Forge a Mentoring Relationship.

–by Patrick Cook-Deegan, syndicated from Greater Good,

Intergenerational mentoring carries many benefits, but it’s becoming more and more rare. Here are some tips for renewing an age-old practice.

When I was in high school, I had a lot of big questions.

I wanted to know if it was possible to devote your life to your work without compromising your integrity. I wanted to know how to be a powerful man without being a jerk. And I could not understand why so many adults seemed to be okay with the systematic injustices that plagued my hometown.

I read dozens of biographies as a teenager, in search of some answers. But for many years, I did not feel safe talking to an adult about any of this, for fear of being told I was crazy. I craved a deep connection with someone from an older generation who would hear my questions, sympathize with my confusion, and perhaps even set me on a path toward some satisfying answers.

Fortunately, the father of one my best friends took an interest in me. He was a quirky guy: He had messy gray hair, always smiled, and lived in a funky house in the woods. He was curious and caring toward me without ever being overbearing or judgmental. He seemed different from the other adults. He seemed at peace with himself, his family, his work, and the world. As a young person I understood that he had something that I wanted: a sense of belonging, of being at home in the world. My relationship with my friend’s dad opened up a whole new world for me outside the confines of traditional suburban Maryland.

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