As a consultant that provides mentor training in Community, School and Corporate mentoring programs, I am always interested in learning how people really take to their mentoring experience. Mentoring is a lot of fun, once you get into it, but for many it is intimidating and scary; sometime people quit before they get to the good part. Recently the Program Director for the Sutton Scholars High School Enrichment Program shared an email with me from one of her mentors, who thought about it, who chose not to quit. Linda Siggers looked deep inside herself and she got it. With her permission, in honor of National Mentoring Month, I am posting Linda’s letter, in hopes it will inspire and encourage you, because our youth need us to get it.
When asked why one would volunteer to become a mentor, the usual response is "to give back." In the last 7 months I feel I have received much more than I have given.
Forgetting our noble intentions, this experience has enabled me to drop the idea of a perceived hierarchy. It has allowed me to keep an open mind and truly realize and enjoy the benefits of a relationship that works both ways.
On my road to giving back, the gifts I have been given are invaluable. The most precious of those gifts has been trust. I have been allowed "in," in different degrees. This gift I do not take lightly. I do not carry any preconceived assumptions about working any miracles. (We all know what happens when we assume) I do not wish for accolades. I wish for a genuine relationship, and friendship, that I hope will stand the test of time.
The training I received prior to accepting this honor proved to be vital in allowing me to take a look at myself, understand who I am, and be honest with myself when it comes to my interactions with the people in my life.
Unfortunately, life happens, and it has limited my progress in getting to spend as much time as I would have liked with my young ladies, but we plan to make up for lost time.
My advice to myself, and to anyone who plans to become a mentor, is please do not take this privilege lightly, be 100% committed, and do not have the mindset that you are doing anyone a favor by "giving“ your time. Have an open mind and realize you have no idea what this young person's experiences have been. If it has been a challenge to reach or engage with your mentee, there is probably a reason. This should make you even more determined to breach that wall. Be realistic, sometimes it's just not the time, they may not be ready, but do your utmost. Be patient, be sincere in your desire to "make a difference." Remember this is not an exercise in self-ego building. When you unselfishly "give back," you will find yourself on the receiving end of something pretty amazing!
I am truly honored, and I thank you for this opportunity to meet two very special people.
Who Sez? JNET SEZ