Society would be completely transformed if every man over 30 years old were to mentor another man.
First lets define some terms. Role model vs. mentor.
Years ago, Charles Barkley famously declared that he didn’t want to be considered a role model. As a young man he would get into hot water for spitting on fans and throwing tantrums and so naturally he didn’t want to be responsible for others mimicking that behavior. But did he really have a choice? Aren’t you a role model just by being in a role.
Take fatherhood. If you are a boy and you have a father, then he is modeling the role of father, especially for you. There is no choice in the matter. If he has integrity and good character, then that’s what fatherhood looks like to you. If he is absent, and always angry, then that is what the role of father looks like to you.
When men get into their 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s they are modeling the role of being an adult man to all younger men. Not enough adult men seem to conscious of this. I’ll never forget when a thirty year old man came to his first men’s group and said “I just wanted to find older men who weren’t all shut down, guarded and negative.” He was actively looking around for POSITIVE role models and couldn’t find any.
So the first step in this societal transformation is for men to be willing to do the inner work to improve themselves. Then any improvement…any more tolerance, any more calm eye contact during conversations, and more non-judgemental ways of looking at things, would be on display for all the men coming down the path.
The second step is the one that would really tip the scales. This is where mentoring comes in.
The dictionary defines mentoring as:
So being a mentor can also be looked at as ACTIVELY being a positive role model to ANOTHER. To consciously take a break from our own concerns and train our attention on what someone else is going through. Eye contact, active listening, patience…all of it. They are the focus for this period of time. One of my most powerful mentors is Tom Monte. He does this as well as anyone I have ever encountered. When he is spending time with you, he is spending time with YOU! You get his full attention. Someone says something to him from the side he does not get distracted. It’s presence. And it’s an honoring of the conversation and the moment. Which also means you can’t BS or hide. The moment gets very real.
And this is why I believe that this is powerful enough to transform society and the world. Because it’s exponential. One mentor can mentor many. Then they mentor many. And eventually everyone is getting real.
It’s time to get real.