The first step to a new you...becoming a mentor

A 22-year old entering the job market today is facing the Millennial Rush to get a leg up on the world, chasing a yet to be filled dream that at June’s graduation, the Magna Cum Laude and paid guest speaker promised was out there waiting for them.

He or she is a bit confused, sometimes crushed, by the overwhelming prospect that they don’t know who to reach out to or how to begin. Mom and Dad aren’t the right resource, they don’t understand and they have their own biases about what a “good job” gets them - insurance, 401K, stability and upward mobility.

This confusion and frustration is warranted.

They just spent a decade working on getting extra-curricular activities (sports, debate, not-for-profit, volunteering, sorority/fraternities, internships and after-school jobs), and that is after the excellent grades and test scores. Don't forget the camps, a semester living abroad, learning a new language and culture all so that they would have an arm’s length advantage over their best friend in high school.

Yet, through all of this amazing effort, they are missing one thing - a mentor. A mentor is more than someone who tells them how to go out into the world, try new things, connect, fix their Linkedin profile, resume and get informational job interviews.

It’s being a listener. I spend a lot of my time as a mentor/advisor trying to sort out what’s the reality of the dream? What’s the thing that’s going to make them the happiest. Where’s the career when the first career choice fails?

In my little Utopian world, everyone would help the generation before them to become something bigger and better than what they are today. And you’re it. You’re the someone who’s done it before. Someone who knows people that he/she can connect to. 

Here are some ways to start your new role as a mentor:

  1. Reach out to your alma mater (High School, College and Graduate). They all have some form of alumni or mentorship program;

  2. Ask you employer if you can sponsor a new employee. Hopefully your company has a program like this, if not, maybe this will get them to start;

  3. Announce on LinkedIn you’re available for mentorship/advisory;

  4. One of the first steps I take with my mentee is ask them to take the Gallup StrengthsFinder so that I understand what their passions and strengths/weaknesses are. It is usually enlightening to see that how they think and feel has been defined in ways that the world would understand - and then tell them to put it on their linkedin profile/resume;

  5. Check out their resume, see where you can help them with format, descriptions, basic marketability;

  6. Ask them how you can help them and begin a relationship through being a good listener and supportive. 

These are the easy first steps, but often I hear friends say they intend to do this, but never actually get around to it. In 2019, this is the new you, and its your turn to make a difference.

The question is, will you?

The knee bone is connected to the...

I’ve been battling an issue on and off for the past 6 years.

It’s my knee.

You see, it bothers me when I walk. It’s not a pain, it’s a sound. It clicks. And it’s really annoying. It clicks when I bend it, walk up stairs, wall down stairs, run, do a lunge. You get the visual. It hasn’t always been the problem. For a long time it just really hurt. It hurt so much that I went to PT, had an MRI, thought I was destined for surgery to repair something in there.  I’m too mobile to have a knee problem. I’ve got my Portuguese Water Dog Bowie in Agility training, I run, ski in the winter, work-out, hike, kick-box, you get the picture - activities that need a healthy knee.

When we have an issue with a body part (in this example, my knee), we should investigate the entire system of mechanics, not the first area that shows the wear and tear.

I’ve come to find out it’s all the parts that support that joint (in this case my knee joint) where the discovery should begin in order to isolate the weakness in performance. I didn’t understand this until my incredible Pilates/Massage Trainer Julia Hollas (Corpo Kinetic in Berkeley) redirected my thinking. When I took my first class with her, she asked, “What do you want to work out today?”. I said, “Oh, abs, my core, my fat under my arm, etc…”. Julia took one head-to-toe scan of my body as I stood there in my shorts and t-shirt and smiled, “Great, let’s start with your hips”. Hips.

I didn’t think I had any problem with my hips. They didn’t hurt, they worked like they were supposed to…until she began to “peel the onion” for me.

Because my hips were not strong, my large quads were working overtime (there are two/three sets of quad muscles, my large quads were fine it was my small inner-quad muscle (vastus medialis) right above the inner kneecap that wasn’t firing). And because the large quads did too much work, the hamstrings on the back of my leg were lazy and not doing their job supporting the knee…oh and let’s not forget, my feet were also doing too much work, so that the muscles around the knee weren’t firing because they relied on my two feet…

Who knew that walking and our knees were a part of an incredibly sophisticated network of cooperation and collaboration of my quads, hamstrings, glutes, feet, and hips. The eye-opener for me was that in order to get the knee performing and in its most healthy state again, Julia and I would be in a constant weekly struggle to break these over-use/under-use habits of different critical points of movement. It’s a constant process…a bit of a yin/yang. But it’s an incredible statement about how our body mechanics rely on a system of collaboration between individual sets of high-performing muscles/joints/tendons, etc…when if one team-member is working in overdrive, and others are less than optimal, everything can go to hell.  

Which brings me to this, the lesson in understanding your systems. When uncovering your systems, whether it be your body or your team at work, figure out how much effort you are spending to understand the underlying parts of the performance in each area (your knee, your team, channel, workstream, etc…). Someone has to continually have a handle on a macro-view of what’s going on to see where the tendencies are for strengths and weaknesses.  

Without someone like Julia (who has full-body knowledge) I never would have gotten to a place of understanding about the "whole" part, not just the "individual" parts. This is true in your work-life too. If you take a step out, and away from your systems, what do you see? Are there weaknesses in one place?  Many places? We tend to roll-up everything into a performance metric or benchmark, or we tend to look at individual metrics, but in reality, it's looking at every metric that then rolls into defining the whole, not just that uber benchmark (sales, revenue, customers, etc…).

I would love to hear your ways of tackling this total view of all of it, in your work, in your knee, in your life.

In the meantime, the knee saga continues...