Mentoring

National Mentoring Month logo, designed by Mil...

When I was young, I had a friend who spent a lot of time teaching me the fine art of being a boy.  As we grew older, he taught me more about being a man.  The problem was, he lived a long way away from us and I hardly ever saw him.  My father wasn’t the best source of that kind of information, though I’m sure I must have gleaned something from him too.  So, I had few if any strong male role models in my life.

As I look at my son, I realize I’m a lot more like my father than my friend.  I have no idea how to teach a young boy to be a man.  I don’t know if I even know what that is.  I have to try and figure out how to teach him about honor, honesty, caring, balance, responsibility, and myriad other topics about which I know diddly-squat.  So he’s already starting out with a strike or two against him.

As I continue to wish upon a star for a miracle to salvage my “career” situation, I realize I still, even to this day, seek a mentoring relationship with people for whom I work.  I’ve done it almost everywhere – almost – I’ve ever worked.  I hope that somehow one of them will take me under their wing and teach me the “ropes” of … something.  Anything.  But the fact is, I’m not a young lad anymore who someone wants under their wing, and the idea of doing that with a man fast approaching middle age probably creeps people out.  Then I can’t figure out why I don’t get job offers.  Heh.

I guess all my life I’ve wanted a mentor.  Someone who would not just work with me and give me instructions, but teach me, show me something – a trade, a craft, the way the job should be done – and become that missing role model in my life.  The world is harsh and expects us to stand on our own two feet even if we’re not shown how to do that.  It’s like swimming in many respects – no one cares how you learned to get across the pool, only that you did.  If you don’t know how to do that no one cares whether or not you drown.  And being taught to do it right saves a lot of energy, time, and lives.  It certainly would’ve saved mine.

But I don’t know if anyone gets mentored anymore.  Does an old vet in some industry, craft or trade take a young buck and teach him the right way, the wrong way, the best way?  Is there anyone out there doing that, going through things day by day, step by step, making sure the protégé gets it, is able to do it, and can be turned loose into the field without fear of embarrassment, harm or failure?  Does that ever happen anymore?  Are apprentices treated that way?  Is there a bond, a friendship or paternal (or I suppose maternal, depending on what we’re talking about) relationship forged between the two, or is it just two guys working together and that’s it?

I’ve never known.  I’ve always wanted to.

What about you?  Did you have good, solid role models in your life to guide you, steer you the right way, make you straight and true as you fly through life?

-JDT-