Growing up in a time when the songs on the radio reflected the general confusion of the next generations’ role in the world, one song sticks with me – Greatest Love of All, by Whitney Houston.  Not only because I heard it played continuously to a point of total annoyance, but because the lyrics meant something very important to me as a pre-teen.  Now, as an adult, coach and mentor, the lyrics have the same importance, but with a new level of meaning.

The first lines:

I believe the children are our future

Teach them well and let them lead the way

Show them all the beauty they possess inside

Give them a sense of pride to make it easier

Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be

Those opening lines, which I am sure you just sang, made quite an impact on me, and that song is forever burned in my brain.  Thankfully so!

In the Summer of 2018, I was asked by two amazing organizations to mentor future generations over the next year through lecture, workshops and panel discussions.  What an honor!  What an opportunity to be a wealth of knowledge to future generations – knowledge I wish I had when I was their age. 

I have often wondered how my life might have been different if as a teenager I had a coach, a mentor – someone that saw me the way I had not yet seen myself.  Someone that could empower me and play a pivotal role in my development because of their expertise, education, life experiences, their mental and emotional turmoil and triumphs that developed into those “street smarts” you cannot learn from a book. 

I recently gave a lecture to Leadership Management class at a local high school, and afterwards the students gave me a gift – a mug that read “teaching future leaders”.  I keep it on my desk as a daily reminder of its importance and of my responsibility to mentor and champion future leaders.  A reminder we all need to make a part of our daily routine.

Having the opportunity to pass on to others any kind of wisdom that will have a positive impact on their lives is such an amazing experience for all involved.  Think of a time when someones words or actions had such an impact on you that your life immediately changed!  Maybe they inspired your educational path or future career.  Maybe they just made you feel good about yourself.  Those experiences are never forgotten and you will find yourself continuing to pay it forward.

We all lead in our lives, willingly or through default.  How we choose to show up in life is entirely up to us.  The example we set is crucial when we are mentoring future leaders.  You have so many gifts, share them!

I am frequently asked by students “what would you tell your younger self?”  I always reply with the following: follow your passion not a paycheck.  Find a true mentor.  Know your self-worth.  And, it will get better I promise!  

The future is now.  Opportunity is everywhere – help create the leaders you would follow.