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As she looks at him, does she see only outrageous clothing and ill-conceived ignorance or youthful vitality and spontaneous creativity?

As he looks at her, does he see only elderly fragility and dowdy clothing or witty wisdom and long-life gained insights?

Perceptions based on ageism serve no age well.

My grandfather taught me that.

When he held my one year old son in his arms, he expressed amazement at how this tiny baby would one day become a man who could and would one day debate ideas with him.

“This baby will one day teach me something new”, he said, “no matter what age I am. ”

January is Mentoring Month. As mentoring matters, older people are asked to mentor those younger in fields from education to the work place to the arts.

Yet, mentoring isn’t all about age.

Mentoring is all about reciprocity.

Mentoring is always a strand of three.

In today’s work place, there is a trend called “reverse mentoring”, where young tech savvy Millennial’s mentor olders, who wish to become more technologically savvy.

Yet,  often these older workers have more effective communication skills due to experience, and years of practice. Reciprocal mentoring will raise skills levels for both.

In mutual reciprocity mentoring each person reaches out to one younger and one older simultaneously.

Mentoring is always a strand of three.

All of us who are older have been where the younger are now. Some feel tempted to smugness, smirking at young ignorance. Yet, in an open relationship with them, we will experience their youthful exuberance and insights. Some young people may smirk at our wariness gained through life trials and experiences. Yet, in an open relationship with older people, they will gain insights and valuable wisdom.

Co-mentoring both younger and older in any area of life exposes each to divergent thoughts and insights.  As these strands interact, they create a unique synergy of learning.

There is never only a mentor or mentee.  Within each and every mentoring relationship strand exists one intertwined individual.  

In every mentoring experience, this individual exists as both mentor and mentee.

As my elderly grandfather clearly knew from his life gained wisdom, no one has all knowledge and experience. He mentored me to live and age well with zeal and exuberance. At the same time, he embraced my youthful innocence as valuable to him. And my son, not yet old enough to communicate, renewed his awe of the potential in new life.

In that defining moment, we were a seamless mentoring strand of three.

As we open ourselves to this mutual life mentoring, endless opportunities will arise.

My grandfather is now gone. But that son, and many others, both younger and older, have mentored me throughout my life years, just as I have mentored them.

Preserving prolific mentoring in strands of three is one way to live a life in crescendo

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