By. Randy Schultz, Weber Marketing Group
I was asked by a friend a few months ago to share why I chose to be a mentor, but found I couldn’t without first sharing what it means to be continually mentored by others myself. Having been raised by two wonderful, hard-working parents in a small town (I mean really small – population 600, and 22 in my high school graduating class) created the need for mentors as I moved on through college and into the business world. These environments, as many of you have experienced for yourself, are fertile grounds for making choices that may not serve in your best interest. As I was growing up, my mentors taught me to respect myself, to be an independent thinker, to challenge ideas and “the way things have always been done,” to be a leader, and to believe I could do anything if I set my mind to it.
The mentors that I had in my life from my Dad and grandfather, to my favorite music teacher in high school, to professors in college and business professionals throughout my career (including some of my close friends and one who is now my boss), upheld the ideals I was taught. They continue to help me set my own path by sharing their journeys. They shared their triumphs as possibilities and their challenges as growth in spirit while simultaneously supporting my own journey. They also have had the uncanny ability to strengthen the belief in myself, helped me find clarity while sharing honest feedback so I wouldn’t get in my own way. And yes, I’m still working on that.
As I look back at the people who took the time to be a mentor to me, both personally and professionally in the credit union industry, I realize I chose some and others simply decided to seize the opportunity. In both instances, these wonderful people believed and saw something in me that I had not discovered…my hidden potential. To this day, as I take different paths on my journey, I still have mentors, some I have chosen, and others who have chosen to mentor me. To both I give gratitude and thanks.
Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to choose to be a mentor, but also learned that I had been a mentor to others, although having no idea of my impact on their journeys as I continually try to live my own life, my own journey, authentically.
And for the times when I’ve chosen this role, it offered an opportunity for me to make what I trust will be a difference in someone’s life. As I reflect on my two young adult children, I can see in their actions much of what I hoped they would see as they grew through those formative years to be little things that would mean a lot in the lives of others. For that being forever a part of who they’ve become, I thank them from the depth of my soul. Mentoring holds a special place in my heart because I have found that sometimes when we are lost on our journey, we need someone to hold “what is possible” for us until we are able to see it for ourselves. We need someone to believe in our potential even though we don’t at that moment in our lives. Such is the role of a mentor.
I am truly honored to have that opportunity to “pay it forward” when asked, or unknowingly at times, and I’ve humbly accepted the role of mentor, to contribute to another’s highest potential and greatest self.
If you have “left home,” pay it forward and share your knowledge, experience and hope. Become a mentor. The rewards will be self-evident. And if you want to see this industry of ours survive – is there a better way than to pass on your knowledge?