Mentoring and Coaching- Have You Found A Good Coach?
Have you found yourself a good coach? If you’re answer to that is no, then you’re not alone.
One of the drawbacks of a breakdown in family dynamics is the lack of contact the ‘old’ have with the ‘young.’ As a result the fruitfulness of mentoring and coaching relationships can become lost. From my perspective both generations have lost out.
Perhaps it’s an idealistic viewpoint grown from watching Italian movies; the older father teaching the young son the important lessons in life; ‘now my son.. you will become a man.’ Although, come to think of it, a lot of the messages I’m remembering, are from The Godfather. And I’m not so keen on the: ‘It’s not personal, it’s business’ lessons be passed down the generations…… the horse’s head in the bed, however- that’s a different story.
So the question I’m pondering on is:
how do the generations get the most out of each other, outside of a nucleus family unit?
When I was a kid I had so many Uncles and Aunts – it seemed like everyone who sat around the dinner table was another significant relative, and I haven’t got a clue as to how many people changed my nappy but it it sure seems like a lot of people had that pleasure.
But now, with the idealism of youth wearing off, the Uncles and Aunts in different parts of the world, I’m left wondering how do we encounter our older and wiser human counterparts. What does mentoring look like here? I see very few ‘old’ people these days. Through my thinking I read a lot of what they have to say, at conferences I hear what they communicate, I follow the tweets they share, and discuss other people’s commentary on their lives. But there’s nothing quite like the slightly awkward, yet exciting and invigorating conversation with a mentor or coach who spends time exploring what’s important and pushed your brain cells and self reflection.
I love those times when you receive the gift of revelation and everything just makes a little more sense. And no matter how old are you, and what level of experience you currently have, I’m a strong believer that everyone would benefit from a coaching or mentoring relationship.
So I decided recently to ask a few of my friends how many of them get regular connectivity with the older generation. I suppose when I’m talking old here, I’m going down the route of the 65s plus. Naturally, lots of people receive incredible insight from mentors younger than this, but I was specifically interested in those who may be retired and think of things with a lifetime and deeper experience of the balance of life’s priorities.
On asking around- it turns out very few do. I live in Manchester and due to the city centre nightlife, after the large bell strikes 10, you’d rarely see older and younger generations share space together. It’s sad- no sitting drink red wine in an Italian Square, with the kids running around the corner, playing with red balloons and eating ice cream. In one corner are older folk who have this wealth of wisdom and understanding that could be passed down, but they intimidated to be out late. They want to feel connected to the world, pass on life’s lessons, be appreciated for what they have to offer, and stay engaged and involved with life’s developments. There’s some mentors amongst these, who have that ability to communicate with incredible insight.
Then there’s younger whippersnappers, with bundles of energy, sometimes with areas of naivety and idealism in outlook, gaps in thinking, digital alchemy, and who would benefit immensely from learning through our ‘Great Uncle and Aunts’ experiences. I looked and asked around to see what platforms there are online to match people with older mentors. You know match.com for mentors and coaches. And I’ll be honest, I found nothing that grabbed me.
Clearly, they’re later adopters to the net, but the reality is that the elderly are one of the fastest growing social groups to join up to social media now. Why? Naturally the inquisitiveness takes over the lack of technical prowess (please excuse the horrendous generalisation), where technicalities may have been confusing, the grandchildren have made it easy. They love their grandchildren and want to see pictures that are being shared.
So how do you go about finding the connection that sets things off on the right foundation on a simple one on one basis. Once you’ve found your mentor or coach, how do you enable the relationship to prosper. Over the next few months, I’m talking as someone who is wanting to find a mentor in the new areas I’m looking to learn and grow in. I’ve been so blessed to have had a number of mentoring and coaching relationships in the years gone by, many of which have been of immense value.
I’ve mentored and coached others, and that’s given me the confirmation that it is more of a privilege to give than receive. Like all things that are precious, a good mentor doesn’t always come easy. And learning from our elders is such a previous gift: a chance not to have to go through the same painful mistakes they did, to receive a wider, wiser perspective on the situations we encounter, and to give back love, respect, energy and encouragement to our ‘Great Uncles and Aunts‘ who loved us before we understood what that took. Now that feels exciting…
Are you mentored or coached by anyone of any age? How did you find the people to give you that support? Please add your thoughts in the comments below.
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