As I reflect on last week's Environments for Aging Conference, I appreciate all the great networking opportunities at the conference. Over the years of my involvement in SAGE, the connections I have made and the relationships that have been nurtured, are by far, the greatest benefit to this organization. My farmer father-in-law likes to say, “It’s not what you know, but who you know that counts.”
The reality is that getting to know people who know more than you do is the ultimate in networking. That concept looks more like mentoring rather than networking. As the board at SAGE gets together at EFA, we will be tackling a number of strategic initiatives to move the organization forward. Beyond the organization, we will be looking at moving our profession into a sustainable pattern of growth and innovation. Mentoring may be a tactical approach to achieving this growth strategy.
SAGE, as well as our profession, is dealing with the reality of watching our early pioneers move on. Over the past couple of years, we have lost both David Green and Rob Mayer…visionaries in their own right. Both gentlemen personally mentored me, in passive as well as active ways as they shared their passion and insight over a meal or a cup of coffee. In my mind, that was the ultimate in mentoring. Who are our next mentors? Who is willing to be mentored? What does that process look like?
I would encourage our younger architects, designers, providers, researchers and others to become excellent at asking questions….questions of those who have “been there and done that”. In my twenties, I know I had it all figured out. In my thirties, I had most things figured out. By my forties, I hoped to figure some things out. Now in my fifties, I love figuring things out…and helping others learn along the way. To illustrate this point, may I suggest you rent the movie, The Intern. This movie speaks volumes in regard to mentoring and learning from those who have a few more miles behind them.
Each of us is at a different point in our journey to figure things out. Let’s use the networking opportunities that arise at EFA to build relationships and to connect with others who realize that they don’t have everything figured out, but are willing to partner with others on the journey.
It’s not what you know, but how you grow from those you know that counts!