June 26, 2011

"Combining the Past with the Present to Create a Future"

"I've learned that the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am." - Andy Rooney 

Mentor. Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary defines the word as a trusted counselor or guide. A mentee (or protégé) is one that is mentored. Sounds very simple in its definition as well as extremely calming to the mind and, if the right combination of mentor/mentee is at hand, mentoring can combine the past with the present to help create a better future.

To be a mentor you have to have experienced many circumstances, have listened to the elderstatesmen/women of your generation and take the bleeding deacons with a grain of salt and a wedge of lime.

An elderstatesmen/women is a respected leader with experience of time, often one who is thought of as having sage advice to give and leads with subtle guidance. A bleeding deacon is a person who believes him/herself indispensable to a group, a person who becomes so over-involved in a group’s internal management, policies, or politics as to lose sight of its larger goals; (hence) a person with a negative, moralizing character, who acts like the sole source of wisdom.  

I think you can figure out the right type of mentor to choose. 

I have had a few mentors in my life, all of which I considered to be elderstatesmen and they have opened my eyes and my mind to different ways of looking at things, handling things and sometimes ignoring things. I have to admit (most who know me would laugh and say "you got that right") I haven't always been the best mentee. I do know that with out those mentors I would be woefully behind the in the game of life and, in particular, the ways of the home builders association. One mentor who has guided me in the ways of the HBA has had an enormous impact on my association life. He has listened to my questions, given direction when needed and acknowledged accomplishments that I helped deliver. I consider him to be like a brother and he has been priceless in his his teachings. And yes, he has performed as a quasi therapist! He was/is with me most times and it feels great to have that person around. He has taught and continues to teach because I have shown the willingness to have an open mind or at least I eventually will. Those are only the first steps in being a mentor and choosing the right "student' is just as important. The potential mentee needs to have one quality above all others. That quality is the desire to improve with the intent to help. 

The next and probably most important step is where that advice eventually gets delivered. A mentor has to choose his or her mentee carefully. Any mentor will have fallen short of being a teacher if that knowledge stops with the mentee. You see, being a mentee means that one day you will be the mentor. What good is it to keep the knowledge you were given and not pass it along to others? It goes to the title of this post; combining the past with the present to create a future. Mentoring is a process that has been around since time itself and the reason it's so important to continue the process is that nobody knows all the answers all the time. We have evolved as an association because of consistent mentoring that has brought knowledge and guidance to where we are and where will be.

During your time as an engaged HBA member you will have a mentor, maybe a few, and the successful mentors will come from that group of current elderstatesmen/women.  They will be more than receptive if you ask for their insight and when they begin absorb the knowledge and implement it with every step you take. Learn from your mistakes and practice your successes. One day you will be an elder for the next generation. What you have learned from the past, how you applied those teachings to the present day will help the next leaders of the HBA continue to protect and serve the home building industry. 

If you don't have a mentor, start today. If less experienced members ask you for advice, help today. Just be careful not to become a bleeding deacon!

Submitted by: Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chair

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