Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Who is Your "Mentor?"

If you are like me several of your friends have been mentors to you, or you to them. In my own career I think instantly of Bob, that older professional who took me under his wing when I was just getting started, of Tom who challenged and pushed me, and of Chuck, who had faith in me and let me struggle until I finally started to get it and began to gain confidence. All of these and untold others invested in me when they didn’t have to. Each affected the path and outcome of my career and life.

If you recall Homer’s epic The Odyssey, Mentor was the trusted friend to whom Odysseus left the care of his most cherished treasure, his son Telemachus. While Odysseus was off fighting the Trojan War the noblemen of Ithaca were busy spending his wealth and courting his wife. All except Mentor, who faithfully performed the duties of caring for and educating Telmachus. As a result of his faithful service “mentor” is now synonymous with loyal and trusted friend, enlightened advisor, and teacher. Most translators couple these terms with our “enduring” to render the fullest meaning of the word.

Think about that. What would it mean to your life to be, or have, that kind of relationship with someone you respected and trusted? My guess is that you already have several, and I suggest that you have opportunities to have more. It is called making a difference. Being willing to invest or be invested in opens the door to a different future. It allows the one being mentored to gain the insight and wisdom of someone who has been there and done that, and allows the one mentoring to, among other things, plant a bit of themselves that will endure well into the future.

Mentoring opportunities are virtually everywhere you look. It may be at the office, in your family, church or other organization. Some may be formal and some may be informal. If you are looking for resources I suggest starting at your local university, most have well developed mentoring programs and courses. If you are more the self-help type, then check out some of the resources listed below.

Good luck in your journey, whichever role you are in. Make it a rich and meaningful experience, be intentional, and treat your relationship like what it is. Someone has entrusted themselves to you or in you, be faithful with the charge.







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