This is a microphone. Every day we lend our voice, feet, heart, talents, causes, etc. to our personal testimony - both for and against - of what we believe in, accept, agree with, or disagree with. I love microphones because they beg for the obvious question. How do you use your microphone daily?
This 40 for 40 post, that began with a description of a simple microphone, discusses mentoring. Anyone who knows me could guess that it's something that's very important to me, because I use my microphone often to tout the benefits of mentoring. At just about every opportunity I'm given, I aim to give a young person just a little piece of some form of guidance that I hope they will take with them. Some lessons are light and anecdotal, others deep, thought provoking (hopefully), and purposely heavy. When I was a boy, I had a need for a mentor because my father wasn't there for me. As a man, I still need mentoring because; 1.) we all do, 2.) wounds from childhood can last for decades in the areas of self confidence, assurance, and fitting in, lastly 3.), you never know what you don't know. Good mentors have traveled the road you seek ahead of you and can lend sound advice on which routes to take and detours to avoid.
That said, lets get back to the microphone. As I've said during many public talks, mentoring is one heck of an available quality resource that is renewable, available, and only costs.... time. As I approach 40 I find myself thinking often about how differently my life may have looked like if I received more hands on mentoring along the way. Lord knows a good mentor could've saved me from many tears, sleepless nights, and disappointments. When I hear grown folks (there's a difference between being "of age" and maturity) discussing the lack of (insert complaint here) among young people I cringe internally because the complaints highlight a core issue that harms our world circa 2018. People can't give what they don't have. The sad reality is that since so many people of my generation, and my parents generation, didn't/haven't receive mentoring themselves, it's hard to believe that they/ we will be able to fix the problem (lack of mentoring) until we realize that we have one.
Unfortunately, this year, a couple of the young men that I've had the pleasure of mentoring have passed away. Both were teenagers (14 and 17) who were not even at the quarter mark in the race of life at the time they left this side of eternity. I met each young man through community service oriented nonprofit organizations. Prior to meeting them, I looked at the boys as representative samples of the many young black men growing up without guidance, and I knew that I could play a role in helping solve the problem. After meeting my lil' brothers, they quickly morphed from representative sample to 9 and 12 year old versions of me when I was their age. Kids full of love, potential, fears, dreams, and life. Now that "RV" and "MG" are gone, the LIFE (and it's awe inspiring potential) that they lived and shared with the world is more powerful to me than ever. They weren't "perfect" kids, but they were perfect embodiments of potential, aspirations, and the future.
I'll write a formal tribute to my little brothers who are now in heaven within a later post. I was fortunate to get to pour into them and they have helped make me a better man. They epitomize the veracity in which I'm encouraging you to speak loudly with purpose into your microphone. The cause that's been stamped on my life is being a mentor and encouraging others to mentor as well. It's a life long quest that I'll never complete, because there is always a child, family member, colleague, etc. who could use mentoring. I pledge to continue using my microphone to laud the significance of its presence or absence in the lives of people. Whether your passion is mentoring, healthy living, business, sports, etc., when it's your time to speak take a deep breath. Hold your head up high, stand tall, and speak as loudly and clearly as you can... into your microphone.