I’m going to refer to a couple of quotes from a comment kindly left on this website recently during this post. At the bottom of all my posts I encourage people to leave their thoughts because by doing so they may create a spark in the thinking of other readers and that may also lead to positive outcomes for many. Paying it forward in action.
“It is the “social” aspect which really instils the power and wealth in personal growth, the shared experience and learning that is passed on from mentor to learner. Once we have realised our own inner self and have accepted the task of growth – I really think that this is what enables the whole process”.
The Social Aspect
Mentors have come and gone from my life but more on coming and going after I have shared a story about one incredibly special mentor whose name was George. I first met him when I was 12-years-old and the impact he had on my life was phenomenal. Apart from the ‘how to’ instruction relating to some practical things, he never once told me how I should live my life, yet he opened the doors to some incredible life-lessons in his unique and neutral manner. Not once did he expect anything from me and in a sense, he was a real-life Master Yoda.
It was from George that I learned, “Do, or do not, there is no try”, which was at odds with other messages I was hearing at the time that said, “you have to try”. Not once did George tell me somebody was wrong, he simply offered ways to do things differently. If I hesitated, he would ask me to name my fear: What was stopping or holding me back?
The wealth of personal growth I’ve collected over the years is a direct result of knowing George and it is from the lessons he selflessly shared that I attribute much of my personal growth success. He enabled me to accept the task of personal growth and for that I am exceptionally grateful for the glowing star he was.
Mentor or Coach?
There is some confusion about mentors and coaches and it’s important to point out that they are not the same.
“Mentoring is a long-term process based on mutual trust and respect. Coaching, on the other hand, is for a short period of time. Mentoring is more focused on creating an informal association between the mentor and mentee, whereas coaching follows a more structured and formal approach”.
A mentor will have a specific skill-set that can benefit the mentee.
Mentor and coach both look at where we are and where we want to go. A mentor has specific, often industry knowledge which they share to help others progress. Coaching is mainly concerned with performance and development of an individual. and is generally more holistic and shorter term.
“I would love to hear your thoughts on mentors, how and why they manifest into our lives, where you feel those in need may begin to search for them and how those able to mentor can “show up” to make their help more available to others”.
Well, I certainly didn’t go looking for George, but he did show up in my life at a time when I needed him. This reminds me of the famous quote, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear”. I could theorize for a long time on how that came to pass but I’m not going to do that here. Perhaps another day, although I will add a little comment on the source of the quote.
This “quote” about teachers showing up when the student is ready is widely mentioned in books and on the Internet. Origins of the quote is widely debated and has been attributed to Buddha and the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism along with Tao Te Ching and Zen proverb; not to mention writers from the last couple of centuries too. In short, I can’t tell you where that quote came from. Interlude over.
“Drop-out rates among university students who give up their studies within 12 months have gone up for the third year in a row, according to official statistics (UK)”.
- Figures released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show that 26,000 students in England who began studying for their first degree in 2015 did not make it beyond the first year.
- The same is true in France and we know some students who started degrees were not on their course of choice and quit in the first year.”
- Many university students are in the 18-22 years age bracket.
Whatever the reasons behind these drop-out rates it must be acknowledged that 18 to 22-year-olds are going through an immense period of learning and change in their lives. Many realize that they are on the wrong path and go in search of more change, often to the detriment of family relationships. They don’t quit because they can’t be bothered. Rather, something doesn’t fit and off they go into perceived tangents that others don’t understand.
Two such examples come from my counseling training when I was asked to work with two students. Both were trainee teachers, both had decided to quit their courses because of similar realizations. They came from teaching families and followed their parent’s footsteps until they realized they were on the wrong path. From a neutral perspective, my role was to encourage them to find their own path and although I wasn’t intensely aware of it at the time, my Master Yoda George was there with me as I made his teachings my own by encouraging and enabling these young people, from a neutral perspective, to seek their way.
- “You must unlearn what you have learned.”
Because we have accepted and often love our routines and our go-to methods for navigating life and finding our path, sometimes, we must shake up the process and unlearn it to succeed.
- “Named must be your fear before banish it you can.”
Calling out our fears directly, they can become less of a worrying force and a challenge we can manage.
- “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
(Bullet points – Master Yoda quotes)
A Cog in The Machine
On the surface I didn’t show up to work with these young people. I was assigned by the system that we were a part of. One way or another they were going to get a counselor. True, another counselor may have approached the situation in a different way to my style. The two students experience of the process may not have been the same. Yet, there I was, for better or worse.
Returning to The Website Comments
“where those in need may begin to search for them (mentors) and how those able to mentor can “show up” to make their help more available to others”.
I didn’t go looking for George, but he did work in a place that put him in a position of being able to mentor young people. One of his goals was to ‘enable’ rather than ‘help’. In other words, he enabled me to find my path by sharing his wisdom and never expecting me to accept it. Other people do the same through the books or blog posts they write. Some present courses. Others see themselves as ‘lightworkers’ and shine their light on life so that the people they touch can see. Some appear to actively seek students, others don’t.
These people know their path and they can be found next door, in our local community group or Internet network. I don’t know why they show up, but they have a beautiful habit of doing so when needed and when we don’t at first realize that we do.
We need a box of tools to challenge our limits and move forward toward success. If you feel that you may benefit from help, please leave your contact details in the comments section below and you will be contacted by your preferred method. Please understand that your contact details will never be published and your privacy is assured.
Comments and Questions
Please leave yours below. Your thoughts or questions may well ignite a positive spark in other readers thinking. You will always receive a prompt response to your questions and there is no such thing as a bad question; only the one that was never asked.
Wishing you a wonderful and successful day.
Peace & Light
Steve Costello is a British Community & Youth Studies and Psychology honors graduate with over 30-years theoretical and practical experience in the Personal Development public and private sectors. He founded ExGro in 2018 with business partner, friend and clinical psychologist, Leo Faerberg.
2 thoughts on “Mentors Pay it Forward”
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights into mentoring Steve.
I have found it really valuable and interesting to read about your real life Yoda experiences with your mentor. His enabling approach and non judgmental way sounds wonderful and serves as a great model of how to successfully approach the process of knowledge giving, while leaving space for development and individual interpretation.
Learning about your interactions as a mentor has helped me realise that where we set our path and intentions, brings us to situations daily where we can all pay it forward. I think it is clear that seeing the opportunity in the present is the most valuable way to integrate what we know, and to seek out what we don’t yet know.
As you have sited, the classic Zen saying “when the student is ready the teacher will appear”. Trusting the process of growth and self development is sometimes elusive, yet always guaranteed at the moment we each need it.
Judging by the facts about students and the current course retention rate, it is apparent that young people still lose their way often. I too experienced a huge shift in my path as a young adult, how this change was supported by some fantastic mentors taught me a whole world of “off curriculum” knowledge, something I fear is lacking from our conventional education curriculums. I hope that this will change in our current age of information sharing and that the right mentors appear more often to young people ready for lasting and positive change.
Whether young or old the consistent reminder to bring our fears to the fore and to face them with integrity and perseverance will enable and empower us all.
To love, to live completely and to leap towards the best versions of ourselves, allowing communities to learn together and to share our unique gifts fearlessly.
Thank you again,
Peace and light to you.
Thank you for those fantastic thoughts, Miles. I am with you all the way so I’m not going to echo here. One thought that did come up is an excellent book by Susan Jeffers… Feel the fear and do it anyway – Worth reading if you haven’t already.
Much peace and light to you this weekend and always