Do the right thing.
Sometime in the next five to ten years my career as such will be over. I won’t be doing HR work as an ’employee’ although I’m sure I’ll still teach and speak and above all mentor. I’m asking you to consider mentoring too.
Prior to the Digital Age there was no #SoMe, LinkedIn or even [gasp] internet. We couldn’t reach out to people globally as seamlessly and efficiently as we do today. And yet, there was a depth of connection I found when you did meet, and I seek to replicate that today.
I started my career endowed with curiosity, student debt, hungry children and no savings. Much like people in 2020. But I did have time, or at least made it. I made time to reach out to people through phone calls, face-face meetings and yes, actual snail mail which I still use today. Efficient? Perhaps not. Real? Very much so.
And here’s something I learned: people are happy to help. They have always been. I can still remember countless leaders – people I looked up to – who were happy to get a cup of coffee together or maybe just have a phone call to discuss what HR meant to them and what they’d learned from it. These former strangers took me into their offices and, in a few cases their homes, to give me the gift of both time and insight. Was I rejected by anyone? I’m sure I was.
But here’s the thing: I don’t remember the rejection. I remember the people who helped me, gave me referrals and were responsive and supportive. And I still talk with many of them today.
So, unlike some peers who castigate younger generations I choose to participate with them. I don’t remember senior leaders putting me down years ago for whatever generational defect I was supposed to have had when I was young and unskilled: I just remember lots of help.
So I choose to pay it forward. And ask you to do the same.
If you’ve spent a decade or more in your field, you are something of an expert if not a master. You have knowledge and insight. You are a resource. Consider reaching out or at the least being available to those in your field for a quick call, some chats, email or video discussions. Do what you can to continue propagating the cycle of help, interest and nurture to those who come behind us.
I can never pay back all those who helped me, so, in their honor, I’m paying it forward.