Mentoring: Share, Give and Receive

August 6, 2009

Mentoring: Share Your Experience, Give of Yourself and Receive So Much in Return

The classic definition of a mentor:

An older experienced guide who can help ease the transition to adulthood of a younger person by a mix of support and challenge. In this sense mentoring is a developmental relationship in which the young person is inducted into the world of adulthood.” …

Benefits of Mentoring

In my research on mentoring I was surprised to find that there are so many benefits that can be realized for both people involved in the mentoring relationship. Formal education teaches the young person the technical skills or provides them with the fundamental knowledge to move into their chosen career but there are many things that have to be experienced to be learned and cannot necessarily be taught in a classroom. Mentoring can be more than sharing your skills; it can be sharing your experience, your thoughts on life, your beliefs, and your insight into what made you successful in your career and in your life. Mentoring is leading by example and relaying to a person what qualities they need to develop to be successful. Helping them to understand the nature of people and providing them with various scenarios that will teach them to handle the challenges that they will face as they move forward in their lives.

Through speaking to those involved in a mentorship I have discovered that being a mentor is a big responsibility and cannot be taken lightly. A mentor should always be aware that their conduct can have a profound effect on the person they have taken under their wing, as their influence can shape the person’s perception of what their own conduct, ideals and beliefs are.

Michael’s Mentoring Experience

I wanted to share with you a conversation I had with my husband, Michael. He has been involved in fitness, strength training and coaching for over thirty years. This has been his passion and he has told me many times how much he has benefited personally from instilling in young people the importance of fitness in one’s life – not just from the standpoint of physical fitness but also from the other areas in life that fitness touches upon. Discipline, dedication and perseverance are some of the ideals that Michael has always stressed to those he has trained and in turn he has watched as these ideals have been carried over into other parts of their lives, in their relationships, their careers and most importantly in how they view themselves. Over the past eight years Michael has volunteered in the community as a strength and conditioning coach for Langley Minor Football and more recently with the North Langley Bears. I asked him if he could share what it has meant to him to be a mentor and helping young people reach their goals and this is what he told me:

“My involvement in community sports began when a friend asked me if I could come out and help the football team he was coaching at the time. What I thought was going to be just a couple of nights involvement turned into a very important part of my life for the last eight years. I had no idea at the time what a wonderfully satisfying experience my involvement with these kids would provide me. In return I have done my best to provide them with the knowledge and necessary tools to make fitness an integral part of their lives and along the way impart the importance of respect for themselves and for those people they come in contact with through their journey forward in life. Working hard to become physically fit requires dedication, perseverance and commitment and I feel I have done my job if the young people I have had the pleasure to train carry these traits into other parts of their lives. I think what has been most rewarding for me is having several of the young men I have trained wanting to come back and help train the new athletes coming up. To know that they had a positive, memorable experience that meant enough to them that they wanted to give back has been extremely rewarding to me.”

Drew’s Mentoring Experience

After getting Michael’s thoughts on what being a mentor has meant to him I asked one of the young men he has known and worked with over the last several years, Drew Jamieson, who just completed his Bachelor’s of Science in Kinesiology from Simon Fraser University, to share what having mentor has meant to him and this is what he told me:

“I was first introduced to Michael nearly 8 years ago. I was 16 years old at the time and was new to weight lifting and athletic training, one of Michael’s specialties. At the time i was an exceptional athlete who was thrown into the mix with all the others kids in a football training program that Michael was conducting. I didn’t know at the time that Michael would have one of the biggest influences on my life during a critical developing period for teenagers. In my experience growing up I noticed a small window from the ages of 15-20 that typically shape people into who they will be for the rest of their lives. Often at times bad decisions, poor role models and peer pressure can lead teenagers down a road they can never return from. Fortunately for me, having sports as such a large part of my life I had the chance to work with an exceptional role model and mentor that kept me clear of alcohol and drug abuse.

Michael pushed me at first because he could see the potential in me and knew I was being stubborn with him and myself. A disappointing trip to an all star tryout made me realize i indeed had some work to do. I finally decided to lower my guard and gave Michael my undivided attention. Over the next few years Michael turned me into one of the strongest and athletically sound 18 year olds that landed me a scholarship to Simon Fraser University for football. I had athletic gifts; we both knew that, however, I would have never tapped into my true potential without the guidance of a seasoned lifting coach. Michael taught me how to properly lift weights, run faster and jump higher, but behind all that I learned more powerful lessons from him; ones I can use for the rest of my life. He taught me about determination, achieving goals and what it means to be accountable to yourself and others. Commitment, attitude and effort were things I struggled with growing up and Michael extracted every ounce of each he could from me. He made me realize how crucial it is to be honest with those around you and the importance of living a balanced life. The ultimate reward from all this is the results I have seen in myself both on and off the field. It has empowered me with a confidence and feeling that I cannot fail at anything I set my mind to.

Even though these qualities applied to mainly sports and fitness when I was younger, the older I got the more I was able to apply them to other areas of my life: academics, working at a financial institution, coaching children, interacting with friends and family and intellectually with women. He has no doubt helped me become a better person to those around me. Sports and power lifting might not be in my life forever but the attitudes, beliefs and qualities Michael has instilled in me are invaluable gifts that I am extremely privileged to have. I didn’t really realize it when I was younger but looking back on my experiences with Michael he is far away the most professional, genuine and dedicated coach I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Along side my family and friends, Michael helped take a 16 year old boy and transform him into the man I am today.

Become A Mentor

You’ve seen how mentoring is beneficial for both the mentor and the person being mentored. Are you currently mentoring anyone? Consider sharing your years of experience with a younger individual. Contact local universities or colleges to see if any students would like to job-shadow you. You could also join a mentoring program like Big Brothers or Big Sisters. You can make a difference in the life of another person.

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  • Gino

    i just made doo doo!!

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