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Mentors are —

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.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 6th, 2011 at 9:03 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.