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Mentoring For The Future

By NU Athletic Communications

Who has been a difference maker in your life? Typically, more than one person comes to mind. These people have molded us and helped up get to where we are today. Have you told them the impact they have made or said thank you?


On Monday, January 29th, in honor of National Mentor Month, Inner Circle members gathered to listen to Dr. Lindsay Hastings speak on generativity and mentoring. Dr. Hastings is a three-time graduate from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, the Executive Director of the Nebraska Human Resources Institute, professor, and recipient of the 2012 Dr. Ron Joekel Research Award.


For the first activity, Dr. Hastings encouraged students to reflect on three individuals who had made an impact on their lives. Students used words like inspirational, caring, honest, and challenging to describe these difference makers. She then asked them to identify individuals who would describe them with those same words.  


Students shared stories in groups of younger athletes and siblings who they had “taken under their wings” and helped them in various aspects of life. The energy visibly grew in the room as students began to talk about ways in which they felt the gratitude of the individuals they have mentored and helped. This exercise required students to take a deeper look at the impact they leave on others.


“People have always been there for me and mentored me, but I didn’t know that I was one, too,” sophomore bowler, Kelly Huddleston said. “This made me think about the role I play with my friends and the difference I can make just by being there.” 


Dr. Hastings encouraged students to be investors, not just mentors. Just as people have invested in the lives of our student-athletes, they can be intentional in their relationships with others. By identifying an individual’s strengths and providing them with “stimulus situations,” mentors provide an environment for the individual to grow and in turn, become a mentor.


Dr. Hastings explained, “Much like businesses purchase stocks to earn financial dividends, if we make investing a regular part of leading on our teams, the dividends produced are visible in better environments that foster strengthened trust, increased support and ultimately better performance.” 


Sophomore track and field/cross country athlete Ryan Bates reflected, “I work personally with mentoring, so this topic really hits home for me. I know anecdotally what a mentor was, but I never realized the impact that mentoring can have on the mentor. The fact that the investment and returns can be quantified in success and development and be passed on to future mentors shows the strength and impact that we can have.”


This continued investment creates what Dr. Hastings calls a “leadership pipeline.” By taking mentoring one-step further and investing in the individuals we interact with, we are empowering them to use their strengths to be successful. This idea of generativity, or care and concern for guiding the next generation, can be applied within teams both athletically and professionally making the students appeal to both coaches and employers.


“I was able to learn what a mentor means to other people and the characteristics that I need to display as a mentor," said Freedom Akinmoladun, senior football defensive lineman. "This event made me more aware of the things I can do for other people.” 


The session concluded with Inner Circle members writing notes to both mentors, thanking them for the impact they have had, and to mentees, encouraging them to continue using their strengths.


Inner Circle will celebrate Black History Month with a panel on Monday, Feb. 12th. 


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