We Need More Mentors in America Today

11:20 am November 8, 2012, by Wayne Oliver – Vice President at RxAlly

Giving back. Paying it forward. We’ve all heard these expressions when talking about those who have experienced random acts of kindness like paying for the next driver’s toll or buying a stranger a cup of coffee. They are always appreciated and always bring an immediate smile to the face of the benefactor.

But, when someone has had such a profound influence over the way you critically think, over the way you process information and over the way you respond to life’s daily opportunities, that person is a mentor. We need more mentors in America today.

People walk into and out of our lives on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. But, mentors and their lessons last a lifetime. We should not discount the importance of mentors and of mentoring.

My first mentor, Larry Braden, was recently recognized by the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) Foundation for his lifelong dedication to advancing pharmacists and, more specifically, to helping to reshape independent community pharmacists. I worked with Larry for ten years and he taught me the importance of active listening, effective communications, and deliberate reasoning. He also taught me you could do all of these things while be a gentleman. He is a consummate gentleman and has lived by the principles of being a gentleman – being respectful, honest, humble, civil, and staying strong – are all lifelong lessons. He is a much better gentleman than I will ever be. Thanks Larry.

Another mentor is former US House Speaker Newt Gingrich and founder of the Center for Health Transformation (CHT). Former Georgia Governor Sonny Purdue once described listening to Newt’s ideas as being as overwhelming as drinking from a fire hose. As the head of a hybrid think tank, consulting, and public policy shop, Newt taught me the importance of critical – virtually disruptive – thinking and of being articulate, especially in drawing a clear distinction between policy value propositions. Newt also taught me that communications take lots of forms … from blogging and social media like Twitter to traditional op-eds, print, TV and radio interviews. Equally as important, he taught me that people receive information from a broad array of traditional and non-traditional sources and that to be an effective communicator, you must deploy strategies aimed at all of those sources … not just those with which you’re comfortable. Thanks Newt.

Andy von Eschenbach, MD, is another of my mentors. Andy is a former Commissioner of the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and former Director of the National Cancer Institute, Andy taught me about the importance of life balance between work, family, faith, fun and service. Andy lives it daily. As a dedicated husband, father, grandfather, and an accomplished surgeon at MD Anderson, Andy still found the time and energy to serve his country at the highest level while still balancing his family, his faith, his causes, and his passions. And, he reinforced the importance of service with grace and dignity. Thanks Andy.

As I approach the end of this post, please consider taking a young associate under your wing and serve as a mentor. Similarly, if you are a young person, find someone you genuinely respect and spend time with them. We need more mentors in America today to help shape the future of our country.

And, here’s the cool part. When you serve as mentor, you get so much out of it than you would ever expect. Over the years, I have been privileged to work with many talented young people. It is so very rewarding to watch the careers, the families, and contributions of those who I hope think of me as their mentor. Thanks Chris, Ashley, Rebecca, Kelly, Matt, Kimberly, Liz, Vince and Lee for allowing me to be a part of your life.

We need more mentors to pass along lifelong lessons … important lessons like being respectful, honest, humble, and civil … lessons like creative, critical thinking and being deliberately articulate when we communicate … lessons like of the importance of life balance between work, family, faith, fun and service.

We need more mentors in America today.



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