EDITORIAL: MENTORING: Mentees Must Learn Respect, Gratitude

By Doni Glover, Publisher
Harlem Business Journal

I’m not sure how many out there can relate to this, but I’m going to put it out there anyway. Over a quarter century ago when I stepped into the world of media as a young journalist, people like Media Arts Professor Ronn Nichols at Coppin State wanted the absolute best for us. He taught us a broad perspective, such as the issues discussed in John Naisbitt’s Megatrends and Megatrends 2000. We learned, for example, how Asia was the next hot spot.

He also, though, taught us some lessons on the micro level. One of these basic concepts is respect.

I’ll never forget being sent out on an assignment as a cameraman. My job was to videotape a church’s services; it was an anniversary or something. Long story short, I had messed up the recording. So, when Nichols got the call, he pulled me to the side and explained to me what I had done wrong. It’s a good thing he did because otherwise, I would have missed an important lesson: Give the people what they ask for.

My real point is how he helped me to understand that no matter what I think, the customer is always right – generally speaking. After all, no customer, no business. And I had to quickly learn to respect that.

I have since thanked Nichols for that and so many other lessons over the years. Many moons later, he is still a voice I can count on for sound wisdom.

Today, and I say this at the risk of sounding old, it‘s as if respect has gone straight out the window. This is a new day and time where the basics, like respect, are seemingly long gone.

Today, people feel more entitled and less willing to put in the necessary work to be a winner. Everybody is looking for shortcuts. Nobody wants to listen. A lot of folks know everything, even though their experiences are relatively short.

I am reminded of the words of my dad – that there are no shortcuts to success. You have to do the work. And this means putting in the time to learn one’s craft from the ground up. A beautiful thing happens, I’ve learned, when we allow ourselves to go through the process. We learn some things.

One thing I learned, for instance, is that everyone is important. Further, I learned that everyone on the team is important. Whether they are carrying equipment or emailing the invoice, every single member of a team is important and deserves respect. I also learned – long before I met Prof. Nichols – from Grandma that integrity is everything. If you can’t be trusted – if your word does not stand up against scrutiny, your character will be marred. In other words, don’t lie – don’t steal – and honor your word.

Now, a lot of people get it. However, increasingly, I am seeing a generation of folks with a poor work ethic who, on top of that, lack respect for themselves, their craft, and their people – especially the elders. A lot of young people think they know it all, but they don’t. Nobody does!

I simply want to see folks understand the need for gratitude. When we are ungrateful, we miss a world of blessings. Often, the universe is talking to us, but – for a number of reasons, we miss the briefing because of all the noise.

In the Black community, the elders have always been big on respect – especially for the older people. Typically, older is presumed to be wiser. Sure, that’s not always the case. I’m just saying that unless an older person is totally off the hook, it is our innate responsibility to have some basic human respect for a person who has seen much more than we have.

Not sure if this makes any headway into the new way of thinking. I just think that a little respect goes a long way. And you can take this theory around the world. Respect begets respect!

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