My Mentor is . . . .
The facilitator urged everyone in the room to reach out and find a mentor. Most heard the words, maybe even jotted it down in their notes — “Get a Mentor“. One person heard the words, internalized them, and before she could change her mind — took action. Looking across the room she made her decision, she made a connection, and she chose her mentor.
Do you have that person or persons — that serve as a sounding board, go-to person, who always seems to be there when you need a shoulder, or a gentle nudge, or sometimes a serious kick in the seat of the pants?
What is a mentor? Do you have a mentor? Are you a mentor?
A few years ago I participated with my team in a tweet chat on the topic of mentoring. Besides trending on Twitter — way cool — it was a fantastic chat. It was interesting to hear the perspectives of team members and guests about the role of a mentor, the qualities of a good mentor, and their experiences.
The dictionary definition of a mentor is:
‘a trusted counselor or guide’
From our tweet chat, traits like good listener, respectful, passionate, experienced, a friend, trustworthy, and wise were mentioned.
Related words in the Webster dictionary are chaperone, enlighten, foster, nurture, and my favorite related word is godfather. All of these traits are indicative of a relationship with someone who has been there, done that.
- My first thought of a mentor is someone who is a good example. Are you an example to your kids or grandkids, perhaps a youth in the school where you volunteer, or maybe a young co-worker? When I was a young boy scout, a tenderfoot just starting out, I remember looking to the older scouts in the troop as mentors (most of the time they were good examples, as was I — wink, wink). As a young engineer I had several senior engineers that reached out to be that trusted guide, to assist as my career developed. I didn’t identify them as mentors at the time, but as I look back they were very instrumental in developing some of the skills that I have today.
- The mentoring relationship does not have to be formal – most aren’t.
It is not necessary for your mentor to be older than you. Mentors can also be part of your peer groups, younger, older – doesn’t matter. I have been fortunate to have been part of two spectacular men’s groups in my life. They were both affiliated with church, but they were way more than just a bible study. While the formal groups have disbanded and most have gone our separate ways, the mentoring was strong. We supported each other as trusted counselors and guides.
- The phrase — mentor and friend — goes hand in hand with me. It would be very difficult to have a mentor or be a mentor with someone that I could not also call a friend. That has been the case throughout my life.
- I am in my 50’s now. Something stuck. People now look to me as that experienced guy, the wise one, the one who has been there, done that. I am humbled when someone holds me out as one of their mentors. The coolest thing — in an odd sort of way they usually become my mentor too. In all of that listening I learn so much from them. They become a sounding board. They hold me accountable. They become trusted counselors and guides.
Do you have a mentor? I am certain that you do. Do you recognize them as a mentor might be a better question.
Are you a mentor? I am certain that you are. Step up to the plate — be a good example, a friend, a trusted counselor and guide.
This week . . . . take a few minutes out of your busy schedule and consider those mentors in your life.
. . . . go have an Awesome Week!