Mentors are a lot like an older brother’s best friend.
OK – I don’t have an older brother. But if I did, AND he had a best friend, and that best friend liked to spend time talking with me, I believe that that’s what having a mentor is like
I’ve been thinking about the mentors I’ve had lately. Maybe it’s the end of the year — I tend to reflect more in December. It’s that whole ‘look back – look ahead’ thing that happens at the year’s end. It could also because I’ve been hired to design a training program for mentors. As I review many of the key strategies and skills needed for a successful mentor/mentee relationship, I think about who in my past provided me with what I really benefited from when there was no formal program to help either of us determine how to leverage the relationship.
Recently someone referred to me as their mentor. Although I smiled, inside I was a little surprised. How could I be anyone’s mentor when I still learn so much?
What did I get from the mentors I’ve had? Attention, time, and support. I received acceptance for who I am and the belief in my ability and potential. I got a confidential sounding board that could be a shoulder to lean on (or cry on) and then with some reflection and exploration, they could be the inspiration I needed to move forward.
My mentors have been people who listen and who I can trust. They took (take) pride in my accomplishments. They might have seen a little of themselves in me but they also saw the ME in me that I didn’t see. Or maybe I did see it – but not with an useful clarity.
What I’ve learned I’ve tried to pass along. When I run into a situation where I don’t know what to do, or I am not sure of the best way to proceed, or I find that I doubt my ability, I ask myself what my mentor would do.
No matter how emotionally tied up in a knot I get, I know how to untie the knot. So much of who I have become is due to my parents and the mentors I’ve had in my life.
My parents are no longer living, but I told them often and they never doubted how much I valued our relationship. Today, I often imagine them sitting on my shoulder, whispering in my ear, watching my actions, and listening to my words.
I think that this year I will let my mentors know the value of their effort. They also sit on my shoulder.