3 Ideas to Support and Mentor Other People’s Children

Summer is always a terrific opportunity to spend time with younger relatives and friends. In my case, I have the chance to get to better know a large group of wonderful nephews and nieces, who are no longer teenagers and are either figuring out what to study, completing their degrees or kicking off their professional careers.

We all belong to a larger ecosystem of adults that extends beyond the nuclear family.  As Angela Duckworth quotes, “all of us are “parents” to young people other than our own children in the sense that, collectively, we are responsible for “bring forth” the next generation. In this role of supportive but demanding mentors to other people’s children, we can have a huge impact”. Not surprisingly, young kids (including mine) tend to reject what comes from their parents, as if any recommendation or suggestion might be interpreted as an attempt to manipulate their lives.

Even though you will never know what impact your thoughts, words or actions may generate on other people’s children, candid, non-threatening conversations with someone they can trust might be really helpful.  I try to convey three main ideas:

  • Your career paths will not be linear – nevertheless, the decisions you are taking now will have a significant impact in your career. Make decisions that drive your vision. And if you don’t have one, start build it.
  • You are in control – It is about you, not your parents. But listen to them, not because they are wiser, but they have certainly seen more things and genuinely care about you. Don’t rule them out, as they might be right. You are the CEO of your life, but as any CEO, listen carefully to your Advisory Board.
  • Move forward – Because forward is the only way. Backwards or sideways are not options (Carl Lewis said “Whenever I walk backwards it is only for a long jump”). Take risks. Don’t bother about the title. Learn, because the competitive landscape has dramatically changed. And if you stop learning, jump ahead. Don’t get stuck. Lead. And don’t follow the crowd – what has worked well for someone else may not be a good idea for you.


Next Summer I will add two more I recently read: (a) Drinking is Overrated. And (b) money is valuable indeed, but time is even more valuable.  Use your money to help you find more time…

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