Wisdom Flows Both Ways


After you read the blog, explore the Guided Meditation and respond to the questions in the Reflect & Journal section that align with the theme.

It’s often not until a jarring realization, like an existential reckoning in midlife, that we come to understand the vital importance of human connection and deep friendships. The hard truth is that you can have it all, like a successful career, fame, status and abundant material life, but without close relationships with people who offer sound advice to help you steer through life’s challenges and celebrate its victories, it rings hollow.

As someone who benefited from the guiding wisdom of a few individuals who cared deeply about me during my formative years, I understand the profound impact of having mentors to lean on during pivotal times. Those defining experiences sparked my desire to pay that kindness forward by nurturing the rising generations to think creatively around their experiences. Now, after several decades of volunteering my time to the next gen, I have witnessed countless “aha” moments in which my ‘mentees’ found their slice of happiness and flourished. In equal measure, so too did I feel a deep sense of gratification by the process.

The gifts are profound for both the mentor and the mentee, a testament to how wisdom flows both ways. Each inspires the other to think outside their comfort zones, try on new perspectives, while rethinking limiting beliefs and worldviews. In this exchange, where sage advice meets fresh insight, both parties find their assumptions challenged and horizons expanded. By having the courage to share our stories and embracing the messiness of life together, we forge a dialogue where wisdom ricochets back and forth, creating a ripple effect that radiates outward far beyond what we can see or even imagine.

This leads me to the conviction that each of us has the capacity, knowledge, and life lessons to be a source of light and guidance for someone else seeking direction or even struggling on their journey. Yet, in honoring that wisdom flows both ways, we must be like the tide — not only giving but also receiving. In this beautiful reciprocity, we offer our insights while welcoming unexpected wisdom, recognizing that every soul we encounter might hold the very words we didn’t know we needed.

Consider the story of one of my mentees, the eldest son of my gardener, a Central American immigrant. Our journey began during his junior year of high school as he navigated the complex world of university applications. With incredible determination, he won a number of different scholarships and found himself fully enrolled as a first-generation college student at UC Santa Barbara. Over the years, his path led him to work alongside Senators in our nation’s capital, advocating for LGBTQ and immigrant rights. Yet, he didn’t stop there. He is now mentoring his younger cousin embarking on his own college journey. His ultimate dream? To one day guide kids who grew up just like him.

Then there’s the recent experience with a former PhD student who boldly left academia to enter the corporate world. It was quite a seismic shift for someone in their 30s, after years of scholarly study and research pursuits. Not only did she take a quantum leap to chart a new course, but she was resolute in her fortitude to pursue her goals, amidst today’s challenging global economy. Guided by her innate wisdom and open, inquiring mind, she unearthed self-belief, reframed obstacles as opportunities and embraced vulnerability as a strength.

Fast-forward almost a year later, when the final “aha” moment arrived, I received a text from my mentee that she had landed her dream job. The immense joy of receiving that triumphant text served as a beautiful full-circle moment — where wisdom flows both ways. In her message, she shared a list of 9 valuable insights she learned during this career transition that I imagine will guide her, moving forward. I honestly think these insights are applicable not just to her journey, but to anyone navigating life’s winding paths.

See for yourself.

  1. I can believe in myself and my abilities.
  2. It’s OK to be emotional when I falter or face setbacks.
  3. Reflecting on my mental health is an essential part of overall well-being.
  4. I can acknowledge my vulnerabilities and address the factors that contribute to anxiety or depression.
  5. I can set healthy boundaries and stand up for my viewpoints with confidence.
  6. I have the resilience to navigate both nurturing and challenging relationships.
  7. I can face and resolve conflicts with empathy and self-assurance.
  8. Stepping outside my own worldview allows me to develop broader perspectives.
  9. Building a support system of a close-knit family and a small circle of devoted friends is crucial for perseverance. 

The path to becoming a mentor may not be obvious to everyone. In my instance, I simply communicate my interest to individuals when I learn that they are transitioning into something different and offer my time. However, there are more formal trainings one can join such as professional organizations or educational programs. Alternatively, you could reach out to young people in your field, neighbor or community circles, or letting friends know you’re open to mentoring their offspring.

Perhaps this experience has stirred something within you, a calling to impart your own hard-earned life lessons to the rising generation. For what greater legacy could one leave than the gift of mentorship — a torch passed from one soul to the next, illuminating the way for those who will one day guide the generations to come? 

If you find yourself nodding along, try integrating these 4 mindful living tips into your mentorships or interactions in any relationship.

Mindful Living Tips

Listen with presence. Be fully attentive and non-judgmental when listening to others, allowing them the space to open up authentically and be vulnerable.

Share stories, not lectures. Rather than teaching or offering instruction, share your personal stories and experiences that illustrate the insights you’ve learned along your journey.

Encourage self-discovery. Ask thought-provoking questions that guide others toward their own insights and solutions, rather than providing answers and solutions.

Show patience and compassion. Approach each interaction with perspective-taking and kindness — understanding that everyone’s journey unfolds at its own, unique pace.

Guided Meditation

Cultivating a Loving Heart

“If you have everything imaginable, but you have no connection to other people, what do you have?” – Peter Attia