When we think about `mentoring’ we often think of “an influential senior sponsor or supporter” or “a wise and trusted counsellor or teacher”. The implication is always that the mentor is older and has more life experience.
But here’s an exciting, alternative type of mentor we can seek: the reverse mentor!
Tom Kelley, general manager of the design firm IDEO, suggests in a magazine interview that the more `mature’ crowd (AKA `persons over the age of forty’) might greatly benefit from finding someone younger and more plugged in to use as a resource and guide.
Technology is of course one natural area where the younger crowd can lead and teach others. Anyone with a teen-aged kid can tell you that. But it really goes well beyond that: younger people have different ways of viewing the world and a different set of paradigms that guide their thinking. The freshness they bring to the table, the unique expertise, and the often unbridled enthusiasm can be incredible resources, both personally and professionally.
In fact, `mentors’ can be found in unusual places…. in my own life, potent learning took place when I allowed myself to view the world through the lenses that my very young daughter was using. As young as one year old, I learned new ways of seeing things through this unexpected teacher.
So I invite you to join me in looking around you and asking yourself: where can you find that unanticipated, reverse mentor? What can you learn from them? How will you allow that to change you? And what can you offer in return?