We live in the era of social media, the Internet and other forms of enhanced communication. With these tools come more opportunities to compare our situation not only with those around us, but with those living extravagant lifestyles. When I was a young child, I had no idea we didn’t have lots of money; I actually thought we were rich. Now, society seems to be locked in a race to see who can live beyond their means the most.
There are many in today’s society who seem to live by the motto “What’s in it for me?” My mentors have stressed the importance of avoiding these people whenever possible. If we ever catch ourselves falling into this mindset, we pull it out by the roots before it takes hold and sucks the energy from our lives.
We all need to look out for ourselves in this world; that’s a given. After all, with the possible exception of our parents or other loved ones, no one will care more about our success than we do. When self-interest is all we care about, though, that’s a sad, short-sighted, debilitating attitude to hold.
Through their actions, my mentors modeled and demonstrated to me that successful people do care about those around them, especially those people who have the desire to excel and are willing to put in the work to make it happen. They understand we don’t live in this world alone. We’re all connected, and the people in your life are as vital to you as you are to them. The “sharing is caring” philosophy, what many of us were taught in our youth, is true throughout our life. Share knowledge. Remember: Their success is our success.
Besides the joy of doing something for someone else, mentors do get something for themselves in return for their efforts: The best way to understand and internalize something is to teach it. In 1993, I was one of the three lead trainers at Saturn Corporation. One day, I was able to sit down with Skip LeFauve, President of Saturn, and I took the opportunity to ask him, “How do you stay so passionate and motivated?” His answer was simple: “I teach.” He said when he is teaching someone, it reinforces the lesson within his own mind and behaviors. “It motivates me and keeps me accountable. And, if I don’t do what I say when teaching, that would make me a hypocrite. The thought of someone thinking of me as a hypocrite pushes me to walk my talk.”
Becoming a mentor to others is an excellent way to motivate ourselves by lifting someone else through sharing of knowledge, modeling proper behavior and providing them with encouragement. Sometimes being a mentor just means listening to them and asking the right questions about themselves and what they want.
There’s an importance to rooting for each other, both in words and in action. Our families, friends and team members will appreciate our support, and will support us when we need it.
The happiest people I know actively show the people around them they have their backs. They never let them doubt it. They also make a point to support people, just as they were supported by others in the past. Mentoring isn’t a one-time event, but a cycle. Sometimes, we’ll need the mentoring; other times, we’ll be asked for our knowledge, support and encouragement.
It’s not only an older/younger cycle, either. When we have skill and knowledge in certain areas, we shouldn’t assume that everyone else does, as well. Younger people often know far more about cutting-edge technology than seniors, for example. If an older person asks for their help, they are asking that younger person to mentor them in this area. At any age, we might have skills in areas those around us would love to learn more about.
My mentors have found the truth in a simple but powerful statement: When a person provides value to the world, that person is rewarded with happiness and prosperity in their life. Those willing to assist others in helping them achieve their dreams will themselves find support when they need it the most.
Life is interactive. Living a Theory of 5 life means making sure we’re paying attention to both sides of the mentoring equation.