Legacy is one of the strongest arguments for effective mentoring. It leaves behind a remnant of mentor greatness that helps perpetuate wisdom gained through experience. Legacy is more than pleasant memories or stories retold at special occasions. Stories are ultimately forgotten; memories eventually fade. Legacy is sustained when it is inculcated or fused into the life of another person.
Gardeners know that cuttings propagate a plant without relying on the original seed. A section of a plant’s root or limb is cut from the plant and placed in conditions that allow the cutting to nurture and grow. But, simply sticking a cutting in soil and trusting it to flourish will almost always fail. Cuttings must be cared for with proper light, moist soil and proper temperature for growth to occur. Cuttings generally happen in the spring, not the winter. So, timing can be the difference between the legacy of a new, independent plant or a limb that withers and dies.
Mentoring requires a mentor willing to sacrifice a root or limb of their knowledge and expertise, willingly giving it to a protégé. Their “cutting” must take place in a setting of safety and in an environment of acceptance. It must be cared for as it transforms a shaky novice into a confident master. With future-focused feedback, helpful advice and obvious encouragement, the “cutting” must be supported until it can be sustained. The end-result is the passing of wisdom to another for the betterment of a protégé and the pride of a mentor.