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Mentors and Mentees

So much of what I write in these columns is designed to help you. Last night, however, I was reminded that there is more to life than people helping you. There is you helping them.

When I got the voice mail on Saturday night at 2145, saying to call ASAP, I knew it was bad news. The phone call confirmed my fears. My mentor, my professional advisor, my friend was dead. He had passed away earlier that evening. Bill “adopted” me as a project last year, and my business has benefited greatly from his counsel. He was an icon in the speaking industry and he took a liking to me. He said I was “coachable.” I listened and took his advice. In the past, others had asked him for advice--but then they never followed it. He said he didn’t have time for that. But, he made time for me.

Who do you make time for? As I mentioned, my columns are about you and making things better for you, but I am reminded how short-sighted that can be. I don’t need to point out that you are a leader and you have much to offer. While you may not be familiar with the workings of a particular part of the civilian sector, you are not without value. Depending on your particular skills and experience, there are many opportunities for you to get involved with and make a difference. It may be coaching youth sports, advising a church group, or working with injured or elderly veterans. I don’t know what’s right for each of you personally, but I do know that the rewards of making this personal investment in others are high.

You may protest you don’t have the time. Welcome to life. We are all faced with too much to do and too little time to do it. But we find time for what’s important. Bill was running a business, but he made time for me. And I am better for it. I’ve also learned that it brought him joy to see me succeed; he bragged about me to his friends in our professional association. I confess, selfishly, that I feel cheated. I know he had more to teach and I had more to learn. But, I don’t look at our time together with regret. I’m thankful he chose to help me. I’m grateful we knew each other for the year we did. Bill was in the army during Vietnam. I was in the Marines years later. Yet, that shared experience of serving, of making a commitment, and making a difference was a strong bond. Some things just matter more--like your service to country and your service to others.

Wally Adamchik is President of FireStarter Speaking and Consulting. Visit the website at www.beaFireStarter.com. He can be reached at 919-673-9499 or wally@beaFireStarter.com.

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