Mentoring MattersSep 08, 2022
There is a serious vacuum in the world today of real leadership. I think we can all agree on that. As parents, we want our kids to be leaders. When we hold our new baby in our arms, we don’t want them to just survive, we want them to thrive and move the world toward a better place. Many times, though we still want this, the message gets lost somewhere, and we get busy just doing what we can with what we know. So what is the difference then, between those who truly become great leaders and those who don’t? Great mentorship. Mentoring matters more today than it ever has. We need parents to become great mentors to raise great leaders!
Mentors come in many forms and places. Sometimes they are in our lives for a season, sometimes for the long haul. Some mentors we use for one area of our life and some for more. Mentors can come in the form of people we know, people we don’t know, but follow. They can also come in the form of books, movies, music, art and any other form of media.
Great books are great mentors! I was mentored today by Ma in The Long Winter (Little House on the Prairie Series). The town had experienced blizzard after blizzard, preventing the train with supplies to reach them. After about the third really crazy blizzard (we’re talking -40 degrees!), Pa says he doesn’t know when the train will be able to get through because, “That one clear day we had, they cleaned it [train tracks] out, ready to come through the next day…and now it’s packed full, clear to the top of the banks. Something like thirty feet deep of snow, frozen solid, they’ve got to dig it out now.” Then Ma comes in with, “That won’t take very long in pleasant weather.” Right. It won’t take them that long to dig out 30 feet of snow, for who knows how many miles, with only hand shovels! Haha! Thank you Ma, for mentoring me in perspective and attitude! I tell you, those two are excellent mentors.
Other mentors in my life have been my parents, grandparents, business mentors, my best friend, my husband, coaches, teachers/academic mentors, wellness mentors, movies, documentaries, music, artists and many more! Mentoring has truly mattered in my life.
Mentoring our kids matters.
What Great Mentors Do
Think about the mentors you’ve had in your life. Some have taught you what to do or how to think. Some have taught you what not to do as well! But truly great mentors do several things for you.
First, is they believe in you and help you discover your own unique genius, talents and gifts. They know that everyone is a genius and has a unique mission/purpose in the world that will make the world a better place for future generations. The mentor helps you discover and develop your genius.
They help you help yourself. They know that education and greatness comes from learning, not from teaching. So they provide you with opportunities to learn. Then they discuss with you what you learned, perhaps challenging you or providing another perspective along the way.
Also, they hold the bar high. I wasn’t a perfect public high school teacher for sure, but I held the bar high. Not in terms of skills or mastery, but in my students performing to the best of their abilities. I didn’t let a half-effort slide. Most didn’t like it, but they respected me for it, and those that rose to the challenge became better or learned more. I also held the bar high on their conduct. I didn’t expect perfection, but I did expect them to treat me and each other with the same respect I treated them. And they did. I was constantly shocked to find out how some of my students acted in other classes. That behavior never happened in my room (ok, it was a true rarity though). That’s also what I love about my son’s martial arts Grandmaster. He holds that bar high, and those kids rise to it. They really do!
Lastly, mentors go deeper. They teach/coach AND help students connect themselves with the knowledge they obtain. They help students see why they are learning and how what they learn correlates to the world. Notice in all this, I didn’t say that they tell them what to think. The mentoring that matters is the why and the how.
These Matter in a Mentor
There are two things to look for in a great mentor. The first is fruit. That is, fruit on the tree. Your mentor doesn’t have to have the fruit on the tree in all areas, just the areas in which you’re looking to learn and grow. As many great mentors have taught me to remember before taking someone’s advice or mentorship: “Fruit check!”
The second is, great mentors are mentored. Never trust a mentor who isn’t being mentored. If they’re not being mentored, they’re not learning and growing and often become know-it-alls. The saddest part about a know-it-all is that they know all they’re ever going to know, and there’s an endless supply of learning to be done. Any successful person or great mentor will admit that the more they know, the more they know they don’t know!
How do I Become a Great Mentor for My Kids?
To become a great mentor to your kids or anyone else, you first need to be a student. Do you love learning? Do you want to improve and become the example for your kids? This doesn’t mean you are perfect, far from it actually. Your mistakes help mentor them through your example.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “A rising tide raises all ships?” That’s what great mentors do. They inspire you to want to become better, to learn more. So that begs the question, “Are you inspired?” If you’re not inspired for learning, you can’t expect your kids to be. You don’t have to jump headfirst into Les Mes or Euclid at first, but example are you setting about learning? What message are you sending? If you’re not inspired, find something you want to learn about and get fired up about that!
Next, find some mentors, or a mentor for yourself. Likely, for busy parents, it’ll be more than one in more than one form. Remember to “Fruit check!”
Also, part of being a great mentor is knowing what areas you might need to find other mentors for your kids. And fruit check those people as well. I am VERY picky about who mentors my son. Annoyingly picky sometimes, but I know that mentoring matters! And I intentionally surround my son with quality mentors. That is part of my being a good mentor to him.
Lastly, look back at what great mentors do and work on those.
Remember, you are your kids’ number one and most important teacher! You becoming a great mentor matters to your kids’ future and the future of our world. If you’re reading this, you’re already on the way. I believe in you. Great mentoring matters. I know we can raise a generation of truly great leaders who’ll become great mentors to the next generation. That is a legacy I think we can all get behind.