I once asked my dad how he became a successful trial attorney. His first answer was that experienced, seasoned attorneys took him under his wing when he got out of law school. He said there is “nothing more useless in a law firm than a first year attorney fresh out of law school.” My father learned from these men and was able to become successful in his trade. Later in his career, he took pride in mentoring young attorneys who were coming up. That’s is the way the world works, it is the natural order of things.
Millennials are needed in the work force for proficiencies in technology that either weren’t around or were in their primitive stages twenty years ago. A matter of luck placed us right in the middle of the digital revolution and by growing up with technology and following it at every transformation, it has become a proficient skill for us that is so second nature we sometimes forget we have it. The tools we use to make our workplaces more productive and to make the lives of our workers easier are much different than they were a generation ago.
But as much as the world changes, it also stays the same. Many of the inherent skills needed in a certain professions haven’t changed in twenty-five, fifty, a hundred, or even a thousand years.
Twitter feeds and Instagram likes aren’t going to teach you how to be a better mechanic, writer, litigator, or carpenter. The nuances and skills of what it takes to be successful in your field have been forged through the fires of time long before we existed.
Sure, some have changed, and will change, but not to any significant degree. As a writer, the comma did the same job for Shakespeare as it does for me. There is no need to reinvent the wheel.
Experience is the best teacher, and teaches lessons more profound and efficient than anything learned in a classroom. Those timeless skills we need in order to thrive in our fields are learned through experience – both positive and negative. Mentors help us see what we don’t even know we should be looking for.
We live in a time where the collective societal impulse is to destroy and rebuild; burn down old institutions, ways of thinking and doing things, and start over.
Everything needs to be revolutionized, fundamentally changed because it is fundamentally flawed – sort of like this way of thinking.
There is not much skill or logic required in that mode of thinking, nor is it revolutionary or clever, as people have been destroying and rebuilding for millennia.
True skill comes from figuring out what works from the past, and using current technologies, take that same institution or profession to a new level. This school of thinking calls for a much higher level of intellectual finesse and has the greatest potential for benefitting mankind as a whole.
Few generations have had the opportunity to do that as the millennials do right now. We were born on the crossroad where the “old world” meets the digital age. Our burden is to lay down the path that utilizes the best of both.
Mentorship is critical in that venture, as we need to master the skills that can’t be replaced or replicated.
Maybe you already a relationship with an older, more seasoned colleague at work and that mentoring relationship has developed naturally. If not, find one and tell him you admire his work; ask him if he could share some of his knowledge with you.
It’s uncomfortable, sort of like asking a girl to prom, but however you go about it just suck it up and do it. It’ll make you a better person and professional and they will be grateful that you asked.
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