On the savanna amongst the “real” lions, every transition isn’t an epic battle between… Young Lion & Old Lion.
Sometimes an old lion gets up, saunters off, and dies alone. Curling up inside an “out of the way” thicket, taking a look around, one last time, letting out a big old lion sigh… and laying his head down.
Never to roar again.
During his reign he did what any good lion king would do.
He set up shop with a solid group of young ladies; fighting his way in; proving he could handle the responsibilities of the head of the pride.
And usually being a part of at least a two lion coalition.
And before they get too big to be a threat, teaching his boys what it means to be… a force to be reckoned with.
It’s in that vein today that I would like us to mine some life ore, concerning mentoring.
Until they become rivals with the young lions, a lead lion is just like any other kind of mentor you may find in the world.
He teaches tactics; he teaches strength; exercise… for survival; how to act towards enemies; how to act towards the ladies; and how to act toward the neighbors, like elephants and rhinos.
With all of the “manliness companies” out there and all of their messaging, one question and comment that I see keep popping up is one of, “I feel out of place with a group of older men… but the young men my age aren’t serious either, how do I get better?”
We are missing some old lions. To show the way.
Those companies out there are doing their part… but online and “in person” are two different animals.
I see it at my day job.
There are only a handful of guys older than me that have some real skills they could pass on… and there is a whole crop of guys thirty-five and under who are basically blank slates… and they’ll tell you that.
The young men I’ve talked to do realize that they are ill equipped.
For the most part, in my personal experience, the older generation isn’t keen on “being teachers.”
One comment from them, and that I can relate to, being on that edge of age, is this… “No body helped me. I had to learn this stuff the hard way.”
I personally asked a gent or two if they were in a position, to be… and had the willingness to be… a mentor.
I got no response. Just a smooth disregard of the question.
Maybe I did it wrong?
I think people, men, miss the point of teaching someone something… it isn’t about our ego, or feeling superior.
The moment I watch for is that instant when the person you are working with has his or [her] “Aha!” moment.
I have come to learn that that moment is truly a realization of a piece of knowledge that they already had in their possession.
As the “teacher” I’m not really “teaching,” I’m helping that person to “see” they have the answer already.
I had an old lion teach me something once.
My father-in-law, Dennis Timm. An old lion if ever there was one.
I was bragging up the accuracy of my deer rifle one season. I had inherited it when my dad passed away. Going on and on about how well “the gun shoots.”
My father-in-law, in his particular manner says, “I always felt it had more to do with the guy behind the trigger.”
Then the lesson.
It was one, frosty, November morning. It was before noon. In the little space of time when the sun is up, but hasn’t warmed the ground up yet, so the frost, and a bit of flurries still clung to the field grass, twinkling like diamonds when the first rays of the mid morning hit the blades of grass just right.
We were sighting our rifles in. For the upcoming nine day deer season.
My brother-in-laws and I, along with a nephew, shot up some pumpkins for practice, along with the nephew exploding some jugs of water. You know… fun.
Then for the serious business.
My father-in-law was readying to go first.
I had walked a large, white square of cardboard target, out to one-hundred and twenty yards. I carried a large black sharpie marker with me. When I planted the target I used the market to draw a large square, then running a line down the middle, and across the middle, I created four easily seen quadrants.
I then drew a six inch circle around the center cross hairs, and then… and then… I took the marker, and only using the very tip of it, I placed a dot, dead center of the target.
Turned, and walked back to the truck.
A crisp morning, a frosty fog, hanging low to the ground, and the smell of gun powder in the air. It was a good day.
Oh, did I mention my father-in-law was in his sixties at the time? Was a double leg amputee, walking on prosthetics? Wore glasses? Was just leaning across the hood of his truck, taking aim? No? Consider yourself informed.
He settled in. Squeezed off one shot. And as I was looking through the binocs I said, “Looks like you missed.”
“I don’t think so.” And he started to put the gun away.
He was so confident in how he said that, I looked again with the binoculars, nothing!
I had to walk all the way down there to find out.
HE SHOT THE DOT OUT!!! No way.
But there it was. Gone. The bullet hole was just a bit smaller than the dot. That’s why it looked like he missed.
We all quit shooting after that.
If that isn’t lion like, or manly enough for ya… the gun he used… was a WWII M1-Garand, that he had won in a poker game! No scope either!
He may not have known it, but after that display, I held him in “higher regard” as the Bible might say.
As he aged, and slowed down, and then when he was ill in the VA Hospital, I would visit with him.
Watching, as “the old lion” sauntered out, slowly, but unlike a “real lion” on the savanna, all alone in his thicket, we were able to be there at the end to watch his final battle… and we were there a few days before to see him take his last shot.
It was a shot of brandy… but you can’t tell them old lions nuthin’.
I miss that old lion.
If you are one, or soon to be one, a young lion just might be looking for an old lion like you to show him the ropes.
Take a long hard look at yourself, are you certain you can’t help to ENCOURAGE, EQUIP & ENGAGE a young lion?