Jay Rifenbary

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Mentorship - An Enduring Legacy

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What would you like your legacy to be, or what might you want to be remembered for? Two questions whose answers have a profound impact on the decisions you make, and the direction your life will take. Simply, what is it that you would like to leave behind? Who do you remember that had a lasting, positive impact on your life, and what behavior or characteristic of that person generated that impact? It is never what someone owned that is everlasting, but rather the content of their character and what they gave more than what they took that survives the test of time. Although there may be something materialistic given, the enduring memory created by that gift has little to do with the actual gift, and more with the nature behind the giving.

Your legacy is created by your behavior, and how that behavior influences those around you. The goodness of anyone’s legacy will stem from having been more selfless than self-centered, and having an attitude of service to others rather than solely to oneself. I believe that understanding has been lost in many powerful elements of our society, and the consequences are evident socially, economically and politically. The majority of us are not in the halls of power, but each of us has the opportunity to mentor, and be an example to those around us. As William Shakespeare so simply stated, “No legacy is so rich as honesty.” Your legacy does not have to be in the history books, but more importantly in the hearts of those you have impacted. A social worker may never have a Wikipedia page, but the child she saved will always remember. The caregiver may never get a headline, but the patient aided back to good health will always remember. An ethical and loving parent may never make the tabloids of the rich and famous, but the legacy of the love they showed will forever be remembered, and passed down generation after generation.

Mentor is defined as, “a wise and trusted advisor, counselor or teacher; an experienced person in a company, college or school who trains and counsels new students and employees.” With each day of life experience we all have the potential to be in some way a wise and trusted advisor, counselor or teacher. You are a mentor in more ways than you may realize. The very core values that you believe in will structure the strength of your mentorship. It will form the resiliency of your character, and be a symbol of integrity to those you influence. In all my travels, I consistently witness a yearning for leadership, and a yearning for those who have the capacity to mentor others both personally and professionally. Who have been your mentors, and do you wish you had more to help you become a better you? Having my father pass away when I was 11 created an irreplaceable loss in my life, and a significant absence of mentorship. It took me years to realize that although my father could not be replaced, I needed others who could teach and guide me to support me in becoming the person I could become.

When was the last time you reached out to someone who could mentor you in an area that you are interested in, or to support you with a life challenge you may be dealing with? It demonstrates strength to acknowledge weakness, and humility rather than egotism. It is challenging to be a mentor to others if you are not capable of being a mentor to yourself. To successfully mentor yourself is accomplished by living a life that is honest and aligned with what you believe in, and consistently demonstrating that belief.

Always remember you teach best in life what you want to learn the most. If you have a passion for something in your own life, you will find one of your greatest joys will be to share it with others. We all have a passion for something, what is yours? Are you willing to share that passion, and be a mentor to others in what you are passionate about? As William Arthur Ward said, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” Substitute the word teacher in that quote with most any person in a position of influence, such as a parent, coach, officer, leader, and its meaning will reign true. Enjoy creating your enduring legacy.



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