You’ve got more to give than you think
Last weekend, my family made a road trip to visit my wife’s childhood best friend. Her name is Whtiney and she has known my wife, Sara, since they were twelve years old. It had been a few years since they had seen each other, so we hopped in the Suburban and made it happen. Plus they were cooking steaks, so that’s always a plus.
Whitney lives on a few acres outside Fort Worth and she has three kids, all a few years older than my kids. Their house is amazing and seems to have every single thing my kids have asked me for over the last decade. They have a pool, a Playstation 5, and two super cute dogs. Their kids have a huge TV in their room, more sports cards than you can count, and a ton of awesome toys. And although my kids never said it, I could see in their eyes that they were screaming “Dad! Why can’t we have that?” all night long.
To make matters worse, Whitney’s oldest son has one of the more impressive collections of NFL football jerseys that I’ve ever seen, which, in the eyes of my seven year old, was the coolest thing on the face of the planet. When the football jerseys got pulled out, my son, Stephen, went nuts. He thought they were amazing, which is why he immediately took off his shirt and wore a Patrick Mahomes jersey around the rest of the night.
As we were leaving, Whitney’s oldest son told my son to come to his room. I followed them because I was curious to know what they were doing and it was then that I witnessed a true miracle. Whitney’s son said “Hey Stephen. You want my Justin Herbert jersey?”
You should have seen the look in my son’s eyes. It might as well have been Christmas morning. He got this look on his face and said “Of course I want a Justin Herbert jersey! Thank you so much.” I said “Dude are you sure you want to give away that jersey? That thing is pretty sweet.” to which he responded “I don’t really want it anymore. I never wear it. It’s cool.”
It was possibly the greatest day of Stephen’s life. What a night for the little dude.
The next morning, as I saw Stephen crawling out of bed with his jersey still on, I started thinking about the whole jersey interaction.
It got me thinking about mentoring.
To Whitney’s son, his “old” jersey wasn’t something that he thought about often. He had kinda “Been there. Done that.” with that particular jersey. He didn’t think it was important anymore and he didn’t think much of it. It just sat in his closet collecting dust.
But to my son, that jersey was new and exciting and awesome. It made his day and gave him something to be proud of. We’re almost a week past the hang out and I still don’t think he’s taken that jersey off. Wearing that jersey gave him confidence and a new kind of swagger that he didn’t have before.
To me, old man mentor over here, I don’t think a lot about all the information, stories, or experiences that I have. I think “I know how to ride a bike or deal with conflict or manage my money. Not a big deal.” or “Well of course I know that bible story. Who doesn’t?” I’ve got all these things up in my head that are just collecting dust.
But to my mentee, my old information is new and exciting and awesome. When I share something that I’ve known about for decades, it may very well be the first time they’ve ever heard that story. To them, learning something new could be the best thing that they experienced all week. It can give them confidence and a new kind of swagger that they didn’t have before. Your old, seemingly unimportant story could change their life.
You may think you’re not interesting or don’t have a lot to offer your mentee, but I don’t think that’s true. Your mental closet is full of things that your mentee would love to have. You’ve got more to give than you think.