Has anyone ever taken you under their wing and taught you something? Or showed you how to do a job or a project, or made you better at what you were already doing?
U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Charles Duncan was the mentor in my life that had, and continues to have, the biggest impact. Duncan was a non-commissioned officer in charge at my first duty station in Beaufort, S.C. Taped to the top of his desk was a sign that read, “Show me the reference.” He challenged me to be better. He taught me how to deal with problems differently. He encouraged me to do more and be more. He listened to me. And he was the first person to correct me when I screwed up.
We keep in touch. And when we are together, he still finds ways to mentor me to be better.
If we, members of The American Legion, Sons of The American Legion and Auxiliary, want to make our organization better then I ask, “Who are you mentoring?” Mentoring does take commitment. It takes patience and a willingness to want the very best for another person, to give selflessly, and to expect nothing in return.
Are you a mentor?
Are you teaching someone the ins and outs of being an active member of The American Legion? Are you teaching someone how to do your job within the organization? Are you being an encouraging influence and helping a fellow member rise in the ranks at the post, district or department level?
If you can answer yes to any of these questions, then you are a mentor. If you cannot answer yes, then I encourage you to become a mentor. Find someone within The American Legion who has the desire to learn and help, and teach them the basics. I believe one of the challenges our organization has is a lack of mentoring. Experienced members should be passing on the lessons they have learned. I see longtime members doing things wrong because no one showed them how to do it right.
Do you need a mentor?
Maybe you are not ready to be a mentor. Or maybe you would like to know more about mentoring but don’t know how to start. Find a mentor. It might take time, and it might take a couple of false starts, but there is someone in your post, district or department who will mentor you. You just need to ask.
Be a mentor
As NALPA members, we want The American Legion to stay great and the way we do that is for each of us to mentor others. Pass on your knowledge to someone else and ask them to pass it on.
I want to encourage each of you to become a mentor to another member, help them make the most out of their time in the organization, even if it means you must hold off on your ambitions to help them succeed theirs.
I want everyone I mentor to be better than I am. I want to fan the flame of encouragement with my mentee and smile when the mentee succeeds.