short excerpts...other writings...upon occasion or as prompted...
The tiger in the water? A representation of my life -- spirit and environment!


Monday, November 8, 2010

Be a Mentor

A mentor is more than a cheerleader. A mentor oversees and actively supports the development of the mentee.

Socrates may have been the first great mentor. Socrates mentored Plato, among others. Plato, in turn, wrote down the ideas of Socrates, making Socrates's name and ideas known to generations of scholars and ensuring Socrates's eternal fame.

Mentoring others is truly one of life's greatest joys. It is very rewarding seeing someone whom you have helped with career and skill development moving into good, new positions. Often, mentees hand an even greater reward to their mentors by passing on through the mentoring of others what has been given to them. Sometimes they can do more to enhance one's reputation than one can do for oneself.

I learned to mentor because I had good mentors. Some came from my military days; the military perhaps more than any other organization knows about mentoring. Some came from my academic days, and some came from daily life.

I remember one mentor at work. I will not give his real name here because for some former colleagues that would also reveal the identity of the bad boss and nonmentor who followed him, and I should probably protect the guilty in this case. Howard was the first civilian boss I had. We worked together well. He gave me much independence, was excellent at playing devil's advocate, and would freely spend any amount of time in discussing ideas, theories, and plans with me. When he was promoted, I was very much disappointed by his replacement who not only did not mentor but also was actually destructive in his relationships with employees. As a result, I decided to fire the new boss by moving on to other work. When that happened, Howard met with me, expressed his concern that I would leave, and told me something that I have never forgotten.

"Had I known what was going to happen to you," he said, "I would never have accepted the promotion. I don't need the money, and I don't need the recognition."

Clearly, Howard took mentoring seriously. That comment made some of the other difficulties more bearable. In my mentoring, I have often thought of Ron and wondered if, given the same situation, I would be willing to turn down a promotion for the sake of a mentee. Fortunately, I have not had to make that kind of decision, but I think such a decision would bring with it many rewards.

I have had several mentees in my life and have garnered many psychic rewards from mentoring them. While some have gone on to different kinds of careers, most have stayed in touch. Many have acknowledged me in their dissertations and publications. Some have become friends, and I stay with them when I travel. Others have become well known in my career field and have contributed chapters to books I have edited. Some have gone on to become colleagues; they may be the very best, most supportive colleagues.

One of the most heart-warming experiences I have had in mentoring was a 4:00 a.m. call on a Saturday morning from a former mentee who had gone on to become a colleague, then surpassed my own aspirations, and now was selected for a high government post. I was the first person he called with the news -- but he forgot about the time difference between his location and mine. No matter! Who does not enjoy being awakened to that kind of news?!


Excerpted and adapted from a collection of vignettes, copyright 2003.

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About Me

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I am the mother of 4 birth children (plus 3 others who lived with us) and grandmother of 2, all of them exceptional children. Married for 42 years, I grew up in Maine, live in California, and work in many places in education, linguistics, and program management. In my spare time, I rescue and tame feral cats and have the scars to prove it. A long-time ignorantly blissful atheist converted by a theophanic experience to Catholicism, I am now a joyful catechist. Oh, I also authored a dozen books, two under my pen name of Mahlou (Blest Atheist and A Believer-in-Waiting's First Encounters with God).

My Other Blogs

100th Lamb. This is my main blog, the one I keep most updated.

The Clan of Mahlou
. This is background information about various members of the extended Mahlou family. It is very much a work still in progress. Soon I will begin posting excerpts from a new book I am writing, Raising God's Rainbow Makers.

Modern Mysticism. This blog discusses the mystical in our pragmatic, practical, realistic, and rational 21st century world and is to those who spend some or much of their time in an irrational/mystical relationship with God. If such things do not strain your credulity, you are welcome to follow the blog and participate in it.

Recommended Reading List

Because I am blog inept, I don't quite know how to get a reading list to stay at the end of the page and not disappear from sight. Therefore, I entered it as my first post. I suppose that is not all that bad because readers started commenting about the books, even suggesting additional readings. So, you can participate with others in my reading list by clicking here.
I do post additional books as I read them and find them to be meaningful to me, and therefore, hopefully, meaningful to you. One advantage of all the plane traveling I do is that I acquire reading time that I might not otherwise take.