My Name is Henry Beyer
My name is Henry Beyer. My wife Laurie and I just had our first child, so parenting, mentoring, and passing on wisdom has become an even more important part of my life.
I was born and raised on the East Coast, where I became an avid sailor and outdoor enthusiast. At 16 years of age, I took the first of several National Outdoor Leadership Schools (NOLS) courses. A three-month trip to Alaska between my junior and senior years of high school solidified my enthusiasm for climbing and the outdoors. To this day, I am an avid outdoorsman, and I love the Boulder area for its wide access to climbing, hiking, skiing, camping, trekking, rafting, and many other outdoor activities.
My teens and college years were free of any major trauma or out-of-the-ordinary challenge, which ironically had the effect of giving me few skills to deal with more serious life issues. I was generally shy and withdrawn, and I found that as I went into my 20s, I had poor communication skills, little ability to self-generate structure, and no idea how I might look into the deeper parts of my emotional being. This meant that seeking help and advice from others was difficult. After failing to gain admittance into medical school and failing to follow through with an engagement to marriage, I struggled to find meaning and purpose. I simply couldn’t figure out what I really wanted to do with my life.
I held a number of jobs throughout those years, including working with the elderly, with young people afflicted with cancer, and with at-risk teens. At 28 I decided I needed a more radical change in my life, and I joined the United States Marines. As a staff noncommissioned officer, I was responsible for more than 60 young men from a variety of backgrounds — most far from ideal. Many of these men came to the Marines in-part to find the kinds of mentoring and structure they were lacking in their personal lives, which happened to be the very reason I had joined.
After the Marines I found the authors Anthony Robbins, Victor Frankl, and Stephen Covey provided some clear guidance to continuing my path to self-discovery. I learned how to reflect on where I was, where I had been, and on where I wanted to be. I realized that I am responsible for myself, and that in order to gain control of my life I needed to be connected with myself first and then communicate that with the outside world in a clear manner. In my early 30s, I finally stepped into my life fully. It was then that I knew that mentoring and helping others had to be an integral part of any future path.
Young people can be given the tools of communication and self-discovery, tools that can serve them not just as they move through their turbulent teen years, but also in the years after they leave high school or college and step into the “real” world. My life path allowed me to experience a number of professions and paths, from the shy and quiet college student to a Marine Corps Platoon Sergeant to someone who works with the elderly, the sick, and at-risk youths. This wide array of skills allows me to work with many different kinds of teens with a variety of personalities, coping mechanisms, and life goals.
I believe that with proper guidance young men and women who struggle with the pressures of being a teenager, of wanting to fit in, and of finding their place in the world can learn to grow from those situations that challenge them. They can excel in this conflict while learning to face and work with their strong emotions. The self-assurance and certainty that strong mentoring brings teens allows them to go into their late teens and early 20s with great confidence and compassion, and a stronger vision of who they are.
It is not enough to simply tell young people how to behave. We must show them how to behave with our own lives, with our own energy, and with our own reactions to their most pressing and challenging problems. Part of what I do is honor and acknowledge the transition teens make from being “embedded” in their families to choosing their own peer group — their second family. This transition can be very difficult for loving parents/caregivers and for their children.
Effective mentorship is about putting good tools in the hands of our kids, showing them how to use those tools and then guiding them as they learn through trial and error what works for them and what doesn’t. It’s about trusting kids to guide their own lives with their own innate wisdom. It’s about providing them with a grounded place where they can begin to experiment with their newfound voice and power.
I lead by example, always, demonstrating through my relationship with teens that, as a former Marine, being tough and sensitive are not incompatible. That showing emotion can be a sign of tremendous strength, not of weakness. And that they are perfectly OK and perfectly loved as they are — in this moment.
"The distance is nothing; it's only the first step that is difficult. " by Marquise du Deffand
"The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible. " by Arthur C. Clarke