Early Mistakes Lead to Life's Purpose

To reach youth, speak their language.

February 01, 2011
/ PRINT / ShareShare / Text Size +

The most important quality of an effective mentor: True compassion. To be effective, your desire to help must come from your heart. Many people fake it so they can say they “mentor” someone, or so they can list it on a résumé, or have a cool Facebook status. Others keep in touch with the kids or leaders and go back to follow up. They build bonds that actually change lives. Those are the real mentors.

My taste in music: My radio is rarely on the same station and it depends on my mood. The only kind of music I don’t care for is hard rock. It makes me feel like my blood pressure is rising. And I can’t understand the words, so I don’t get any type of story from it.

A secret from my past: I left my date at the prom! A group of friends and I talked the limousine driver (whom my date had hired) into taking us to an after-prom party at the beach—without my date. He never talked to me again. I know I owe him an apology, and hope I’ll get the nerve to do it someday.

A New Year’s resolution: I want to start a “rookie running club” for families who want to train for and complete a 5K race together. This activity combines two important pursuits: quality family time and fitness. Anyone who has run a race knows that the feeling you get when you cross that finish line is priceless. You feel like you can accomplish anything, and then self-efficacy takes root in other areas of life.

“Bucket list” activities: Personally, I want to run a full marathon. I completed a half-marathon in October. I also want to be on a talk show one day (for something positive). Professionally, I’d love to take one of our youth programs to a national level, where youth from around the country can compete, showing off their financial knowledge. Think “Junior Apprentice.”

Post a comment to this story


What's Popular

Popular Stories

Recent Discussion

Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

Your Say: Who should be Credit Union Magazine's 2014 CU Hero of the Year?

View Results Poll Archive