Several of the most influential mentors in my life have passed away over the past several years. At age 56, you would think I would not still have so many pressing questions. At this stage in life, shouldn’t I already have all of the tools I need to navigate the complexities life presents? I find myself still needing a good word from wise people. The questions at this stage have a more difficult feel to them. I find myself feeling inadequate. But, I had a brainstorm!
I need to be reminded of the words of wisdom my mentors shared with me over the years. Some of them used several key sayings repeatedly. Mr. Groux was my employer when I was an undergraduate student. He had a number of anecdotal sayings. One that he used repeatedly was couched in the form of a question. “Are you well qualified to discuss that?” I was so young and so naïve. I had no idea that he was putting me in my place in a really nice way by posing that question. At age 18, I possessed a lot of answers and had few questions.
I find his question compelling today. AM I well qualified to discuss this subject? Perhaps I have read extensively on a given issue. Experience may also empower me to weigh in meaningfully on a particular topic. But on the other hand, I may not be nearly as qualified as I think I am! At this stage in life, my understanding of Mr. Groux’s question is much different than it was in 1980. Today, I am thinking it would be a good idea to do lots and lots of listening. I don’t know nearly as much as I think I do. And my experience is not nearly as extensive as I perceive.
Am I well qualified to discuss ________? I think my answer today regarding a variety of topics is: probably not! Mr. Groux has been deceased since 2012. I miss him a lot. I would have never finished my undergraduate degree without his capable guidance and ongoing encouragement. He never went to college, but I noticed over the years I worked for him that he did lots and lots of listening. He was about my age now when I went to work for him. I was an arrogant and foolish 18-year-old kid who knew a lot about everything. As a man in his 50’s, he was must have felt like I do today. He too possessed pressing questions about money management, marriage, children, and friendship. And I suppose that is why he was a good listener. And it’s probably why he asked me: “Are you well qualified to discuss that?