Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Mentoring 101

A good coach won’t bring to you talent you don’t have, but he or she will help draw to the surface what may be dormant within you. – Jeff Caliguire

I always had a burning desire to reach out to the youth, and a passion to impact their lives positively. One of the few reasons I had when I jumped ship to the academe.

It is not the first time I took on the job of advising an organization. But this is the first time I worked with students who are very much willing to learn, excited to discover new things, and equates busy with challenge. I have never seen a group so committed they are willing to forego their own personal leisure just to get things done.

Values towards work is learned and acquired early on. We usually learn from our parents, or anyone, who, in a way or the other, become our first role model.

My personal mantra is that, I want to work with people who have the same degree of commitment that I have, with the same values, working on the things I believe in. I was always blessed to be part of a team, and learned from committed and dedicated individuals, who do not have “tired” and “hungry” in their vocabulary.  Having worked for more than ten years with the government, my experience redefined and refocused my respect towards government employees because I have seen them work hard to meet goals and deadlines, with the end in view of providing quality service. 

I was always the youngest in the team. And I was always drawn to friends who are several years older than I am. Now, I am the oldest in the team, and it is the first time I am seriously working with young people, teenagers with different personalities. 

Looking at the organization I am currently working with, they are way more mature than their age. Quite a revelation, because they used to be my students too; and looking at them now, I am rediscovering them in a different light. Their being so focused and committed towards work, is a far cry from who they were in my classroom.

Yes, I am so blessed and proud to work with them.  I am more than glad to have taken on the challenge, because I have not seen a group so determined, so focused, and so teachable.

It is my first time to really mentor full time. It fuels me to do more. Indeed, “he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

The Leaders’ Convergence that included a talk from Dr. Kit Bonnet on Stewardship and Advising, inspired me to really be more focused.  What inspired me more is that, beyond the warm glow of helping them achieve their purpose, they can actually be impacted for the rest of their lives. And yes, it isn't all fun, but there are complications too. 

Advising can be seen as a thankless job – no overtime pay, no deloading, extra work, plus the dynamics of the team. Yet, I never thought about it. I was just too eager to take on the challenge, perhaps because, I was once like them.   

The heart of mentoring is being able to hone our mentees and advisees to be better than we are, achieving greater than what we were able to achieve. They are not our competition, not even our slaves or workers. They are placed under our care to nurture. We work together, stand by them.  A mentor or a coach, of course, can never bring about a talent that they do not have, but a good one will help draw to the surface what may be dormant in them. Mentoring is more familial rather than hierarchical. An organization must foster a caring and nurturing environment to facilitate learning. 

One thing I discovered, not everybody wants to be mentored. There are those who are very willing to be mentored, they absorb like sponge. You see them grow.   There are also those you want to mentor, but are not willing. One thing I have proven time and time again, leadership and the willingness to learn is not at all about IQ or high grades. But it is more of humility, EQ, and the heart to serve others.

I wait in expectation as they tread on the same path I have treaded.  It is always a delight to see them accomplish what I have accomplished when I was older, and that is enough reason for me to be excited and be happy for them. I am confident that when they finally are on their own, they have the right attitude and the right character towards work, and they will never be overwhelmed by gargantuan responsibilities. I wait in expectation as they win their own battles, better than I did when I was their age.  

The returns are implicit. It cannot be equated with any monetary benefit. If I have to put it theoretically, the utility is unbounded and the intrinsic value, based on a future series of dividends grow at a constant rate in perpetuity. Because investing so much time and effort, and a whole lot of emotions into a group of individuals not your own just to make things happen for them, is already a seed being planted.  And I guess, no matter how little we impact the lives of others, there will always be a multiplier effect.  

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