Mentorship On and Off the Field
By Curtis Granderson, New York Mets Outfielder, Chairman of the Board, Grand Kids Foundation November 05, 2014 09:05 AM
This post is part of a series inspired by Pathways to Progress, a Citi Foundation initiative that works with community partners, city officials and Citi employee volunteers to help low-income urban youth develop the leadership experience, professional skills and the workplace know-how they will need on their path towards college and careers. Follow the conversation on social media using the hashtag #Pathways2Progress
When you're a professional baseball player, you have to get used to people watching your every move on-the-field - each catch, play, and hit. What you quickly realize, however, is that what you do off-the-field is equally as important.
Both of my parents are former educators, so growing up they instilled in me the importance of sharing learning experiences with others. As my career developed, I began to realize that people looked to me to teach them - in more ways than I ever could have imagined. Nearly a decade later, I'm still committed to make every opportunity I have to influence others count. In many ways, my career has provided me the ability to be a role model and mentor to so many people, sharing with them the lessons I've learned along the way.
As a mentor, I've learned that it is important to make sure that the people who look to you for guidance feel empowered to succeed - no matter what their dreams and aspirations may be. Most importantly, they should feel encouraged to pursue their goals. That's why I started the Grand Kids Foundation - to be able to impart the lessons I've learned about character, integrity and personal responsibility with young fans, all of whom I consider my mentees.
I think a lot about what it takes to be an integral part of an effective mentor/mentee relationship - whether you're the one providing the guidance or the one receiving it. While it's beneficial to have a mentor who has a similar professional role or path, it's not necessarily a requirement. What truly matters are the lessons learned along the way
For example, an aspiring teacher having a professor as a mentor is great, but it's more important to have a mentor who has the qualities that make a great teacher - in this case, it's someone that has the ability to influence and inspire while simultaneously articulating their own experience, advice, and lessons to a diverse audience. These important skills can be found in people across professions.
In addition, programs like the Citi Foundation's Pathways to Progress campaign are also helping provide critical opportunities for young people to get involved in a mentoring relationship. Over the 2014 baseball season, the Mets and I have been proud to team-up with Citi on a wide range of initiatives related to Citi Field, and cross sector partnerships like this are integral to the success of the next generation.
Ultimately, it is important to remind ourselves that individuality is vital and success is diverse. There are countless paths to success - no two are the same. For example, decisions and strategies that work for me may not work for someone else - and as a mentor, it's important to remember that.
I always ensure that when I mentor someone, my first goal is to help them understand the process of setting goals and outlining the necessary steps to accomplish them. For anyone who wants to be a mentor, remember that all you really need is the desire to help others achieve their dreams and the ability to inspire. You never know, you may find your own pathway to progress along the way!