Friday, September 4, 2009

Mentors and Success



In "Overcoming the Odds", Emma Werner and Ruth Smith share their research of Kauai's indigenous children determining resiliency factors influencing a Kauai child's capacity to transcend a population rife with excessive rates of alcoholism, poverty, and suicide.

Their thirty year study identified three factors influencing a child's capacity to overcome significant obstacles to become happy, fulfilled adults. The factors are not interdependent. Please find them listed below.

1. A child is more likely to overcome obstacles if no siblings are born within two years of his or her birth. Receiving focused nurturing and care in the first two years of one's life has a strong impact on one's ability to handle setbacks.

This translates to primates where chimps' normal gestation cycles are five years. When a chimp's sibling is born within this five year period, the older chimp usually fails to reach adulthood.

Werner and Smith also learned 2. children with special talents or skills, whose traits garner early recognition, are more capable of overcoming significant odds. Being artistic, athletic, academic, cute, big, funny, etc. attracts positive attention and gives a child hope. This is critical in fostering direction and confidence.

The study also found 3. Kauai's resilient children had at least one adult in their lives who took a sincere and meaningful interest in the child's well being. Resilient kids have mentors. Whether it's a parent, neighbor, coach, teacher, relative, or another member of the community, children need someone to care about their well being and to give them specific feedback to achieve goals.

Mentoring is the most controllable of these three resiliency factor. It's easy to identify good mentors and to train sound mentoring skills.

And, mentoring makes life more satisfying. A gallop pole surveyed Americans to determine "what makes Americans happy?" The survey found three actions contribute to a person's sense a satisfaction. Please find them listed below.

1. Happy people contribute to a cause larger than their immediate family, like a community center, church, or school.

2. Happy people identify and use their unique talents and skills.

3. Happy people make meaningful differences in other people's lives. They mentor.

A person or organization utilizes mentors to bounce back from adversity and to succeed. Being a mentor increases life satisfaction and happiness.

It's a win / win relationship.