Mentoring. Defined.

There have been so many stories lately that have come out of National Mentoring Month.  I have read and been inspired by Michelle Obama, Wayne Gretzky, a young Edmonton woman who needed a mentor and, well, my own sister. There are lots of stories and lots of ways in which people of means and success have mentored and been mentored, leading to positive and successful, productive lives.
I know what a mentor is and likely, if you`re reading this blog, so do you.
But what does that mean in a real person`s life.  People you know, or even yourself.
I have a number of stories that have been relayed to me personally about the reasons that people choose to mentor a child.  And even more from parents, who chose to seek mentorship for their children.  And still more, from grown men and women who had the benefit of a mentor in their lives as young people.  I`ll share some of these as we go forward in the blogosphere.  But today, I want to talk a little about not having a mentor as a child.
Here`s the thing.  When we are raised by a parent, two parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, guardians…what we learn and know, is the sum total of their experience.  With few exceptions, these are relatively limited.  So we rely upon our own experiences, experiences of peers, and mistakes we make, to learn.  Man…we make things hard on ourselves, don`t we.
I have been incredibly fortunate in my work life to work with, beside, for and around, incredible people who have become unofficial mentors.  I think they know who they are…I hope so, because their impact on my life has been profound.  One in particular, pushed and pulled me into places in which I was uncomfortable, but ultimately able, to be successful.  Even currently, an amazing woman is my mentor and I`m not even sure if she knows it.  What does it mean, to be that.
A Mentor is defined as a trusted friend, counselor or teacher, usually a more experienced person, who guides and instructs.  This is SUCH a limited definition.  I have seen the emotional, physical, spiritual and practical implications of positive mentoriship.
I will admit that I failed my children in not seeking a mentor for each of them.  I should have.  Their lives could have been so much more if they had the benefit of a larger horizon than that which my husband and I could provide.  I hope, and feel comforted, that the people we exposed them to, were, and continue to be, exemplary contributors to their growth.
I did not have a personal mentor as a child.  I wonder what my world would look like if I had known more or experienced more or felt better about myself growing up.  There is no sense, of course, in looking back.  But what I would encourage parents to consider, is how your child could benefit from a broadened horizon.  Posibilities…travel, education, the treatment of others, respect for law and duty, love for all people…these are things we sometimes take for granted and forget to pass on.  Pass it on.  It is worth sharing.
A friend used to say to me…it is a wiggly world.  Indeed it is.  Help a child appreciate, understand, and respect the diversity we see in our communities, in the people we meet, and in the possibilities that are in front of them.  It is important work and will build a more positive future for our community and our world.  It is.
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