Yes, You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks!

life leadership legacy work

by: liberty forrest (Writer and Huffington Post contributor)
on assignment for WELLth Learning Network

The old joke used to be that if you couldn’t open your childproof medicine, ask a kid to do it for you. Who’d have thought this would be a portent of much bigger things to come? Yet here we are, a good chunk of the population in our forties or fifties, no longer given the luxury of feeling a bit smug for being oh, so worldly and wise.

Nope, the younger generations have managed to breeze right past us with their uncanny ability to use All Things Technological. No longer are we the only ones who can teach based on our vast lived experience. Now, many of us need youngsters to help us navigate Life in the 21st Century. Still think tweets are for the birds? No idea what a hashtag is? Feel like your Smart phone’s IQ is higher than yours?

No worries. That’s what Reverse Mentoring is all about.

Traditionally, mentoring was thought to be something older people do for younger ones. But sharing lived experiences can happen at any age. There is a lot that the younger generations can teach the older ones. Twenty-somethings have their fingers firmly on the pulse of advances in our ever-changing technology almost before they happen. It’s as though knowledge of such things is hard-wired into their DNA, leaving some of us older folks scratching our heads and wondering just how that happened.

Sometimes the older generations can feel offended by the notion of being mentored by people half their age. But although the emphasis is on the youngsters doing the teaching, the older generations soon discover that reverse mentoring isn’t so one-sided after all. Instead, they find a mutual sharing of various lived experiences, fostering better working relationships and closing the gap between generations.

Ultimately both parties share, mentor and prosper.

liberty forrest (who spells her name in lower case for a reason) is a freelance writer and the author of several books. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications in many parts of the globe, including Canada, USA, London, South Africa, India, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and more. Currently, liberty writes for Huffington Post. 

Videos and articles:

This is a brilliant short video on reverse mentoring with Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric and who was quick to discover in the ’90s that the top execs needed to connect with the younger staff to learn about the internet:

Here is a fabulous article on how to get you started on reverse mentoring, especially if it feels daunting or uncomfortable to turn to someone younger for help:

http://www.inc.com/lee-colan/reverse-mentoring-the-big-benefits-to-learning-from-younger-employees.html

Below is another great article with lots of information about how to start a mentoring program in 10 steps:

http://blogs.cisco.com/diversity/how-to-set-up-a-reverse-mentoring-program-in-10-steps

This article offers the benefits of senior management taking on reverse mentors, and a few tips to help them make the most of the process:

http://www.experteer-blog.com/magazine/use-reverse-mentoring-tool/

Here’s an excellent article with some specifics about the reverse mentoring experience.

http://www.techopedia.com/definition/28107/reverse-mentoring

This is an inspiring video about embracing reverse mentoring, as experienced by MasterCard’s Ron Garrow and Rebecca Kaufman

http://finance.yahoo.com/video/executives-learn-embrace-reverse-mentoring-164407985.html

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About The Author

Dr. Stephen Hobbs is a Decision Mentor. He’s available to guide you as a business owner, entrepreneur, executive or team leader to make better decisions. He uses a mix of facilitating, coaching and mentoring to realize your outcomes ethically and in your words. An hour with Steve straightens out even the biggest decision so you can see the forest and the trees.

 

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