I have always been amazed in the harmony and inner-connectedness of one’s personal and business pursuits. Case in point: Not long ago, my wife and I were given a wondrous gift of life in the birth of our first grandchild. From the moment our son stepped out of the delivery room announcing baby Lennox had arrived our lives have been forever transformed. A couple of months later, having been given the green light to have Papa time, I decided to take my grandson on a grand adventure – exploring the backyard. Being a proud grandpa, I took the time to stop and explain to him every plant, bug, bird and push of the wind that we experienced in our walk. As expected, within a few minutes he had fallen fast asleep in my arms. Undeterred I continued our walk, maintaining a narrative of what we were seeing, knowing that somehow he was taking in all that I was trying to pass on.
Later that evening I started to think about all of the great individuals who guided me on my grand adventures. It became quite clear that whether they were sharing personal guidance or counsel on a business decision I was struggling with, the choices I would eventually make were both shaped and greatly enhanced by the experiences they so willingly shared with me. I am forever grateful to them.
What I realized that evening with my grandson was that everyone has the capability of passing on the insights of a lifetime if they choose to release their inner mentor. Every day we offer support, guidance and opinions to others (family, colleagues, etc.) that formally or informally may shape or support a choice they may be looking to understand, make or create.
Take a moment to reflect on just one day’s worth of interactions. I bet that a majority provided some insight to others that helped them better reflect on given situations. For me this moment of clarity was quite powerful. Who would have guessed that a walk in the backyard with my grandson would crystallize for me that a life’s pursuit of giving back was truly a natural extension of my responsibility as a good citizen?
Today’s healthcare environment may be the most challenging ever. Great minds are now collaborating to solve complex problems in building a new healthcare community. This work requires an unprecedented level of transparency and thought exchange. My challenge to you is to embrace your inner mentor now. Seek out individuals and communities to help build the next generation of healthcare professionals. I can promise you that for every ounce of energy you expend on mentoring you will reap twice the return in energy and personal satisfaction in sharing a small part of what you have learned along the way.
I am a firm believer that leadership is a privilege. Mentoring (giving back) is certainly a worthy way to salute this honor.
Who knows, sometimes a short stroll in the backyard may lead to stronger future for us all. I know mine certainly did. (Come to think of it, I was actually the mentee in my grandson’s afternoon adventure.)
Nick Gaich is the founder and CEO of Nick Gaich and Associates, a firm dedicated to providing executive coaching, leadership development, strategic planning and operational performance. He retired in 2012 from his post as assistant dean of clinical and translational research operations, Stanford Center for Clinical and Translational Research and Education at Stanford University School of Medicine.