On Mentoring: One Response

This is a comment I posted recently in response to one of my readers who was unsure as to how to go about having a mentor and asked for advice.  I’ve added a couple of points since my original statement:

I appreciate your personal disclosure. Fact is, everyone needs help at some time in their lives. Looking back on my own life I can see so many ways that I have been helped by others so I’m very open to the role of mentor myself because I see it as a way to reciprocate the kindnesses that was shown to me by turning around and helping someone else.

I’m pretty sure you’ve inspired others as well. The funny thing about that (for me at least),  is that sometimes you might just be figuring things out as you go along, doing the best you can, and someone else can find something from watching you that ends up helping them on their own journey.

Another funny thing about mentoring to me is that it solidifies my belief that there is no teaching without learning. I’ve learned something from  everyone who has ever thought of me as a mentor at some point. Has this been the case for you?

In terms of acquiring a mentor, is there anyone in your work or personal life who might be doing something similar to, or exactly like what you would want to do?

For me, finding a mentor involves understanding that I need guidance in some area, and looking for someone who can help.

I think things can flow more naturally if you find someone who you already know and admire, but it can also work if it’s someone you don’t know. Find a way to get introduced, send an email or call. Share your genuine story & how it relates to their experiences.

Like many other areas in life, sometimes things work out, sometimes not. You can count the successes as victories you can reference to when things feel as if their not working out. On the flip side, you can learn lessons from closed doors. Have courage, reach out. For every person who might not help, there’s someone else who will.

Good luck!

That was one response, but what about yours? Do you have any mentors or people who you admire? How did they become your mentor? What was the process like for you? If you’ve been a mentor yourself, what does the role feel like to you?

Grace & Peace,

From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins, MSW



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I’m a Social Justice Educator and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities.

“Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian” is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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9 Responses

  1. I like that you begin the response with an expression of the word “reciprocity.” I think all would-be mentors and mentees would look this word up and apply its meaning to the mentoring relationship. The best (I would say REAL) mentoring relationships find each person giving AND receiving.

  2. rootedinbeing says:

    Thank you so much for expanding on this! I love the philosophical ideal of Ubuntu. It just sits right with me, and is quite spiritual when applied in my own life.

    I have always been caught up in this formal idea of what a mentor is, but the truth is I have had so many social workers and therapists who have taught me so much about this work, and about myself.

    I am newly graduated, and look forward to finding someone I can align with at my new job. Having those relationships is a priority for me, I think it makes us better at what we do – especially in the field of trauma.

    • You’re very welcome. The concept of Ubuntu sits right with me as well, and I’d agree with you in believing that it’s taken on some spiritual qualities when applied to my own life. It’s very fitting, and serves me well on my journey as an aspiring humanitarian; striving to become more humane to others.

      I can relate to having a formal idea of what a mentor is at times, but my experiences continue to show me that life is much more fluid, and mentoring can manifest itself in a variety of ways.

      Newly graduated huh? I’m a fairly recent grad myself! Having someone to provide us with guidance can definitely make us better at the work that we do. I’m wishing you the very best in your search.

  3. seapunk2 says:

    Sometimes, even a sentence or a few words can make an enormous change or difference in an individual’s life. Likewise.

  4. David says:

    “For me, finding a mentor involves understanding that I need guidance in some area, and looking for someone who can help.” And that is exactly where most people fail. Many people look at mentoring as something that will happen to them, but in reality it is the proactive seeker who finds success. Great post!

    • Thanks for stopping by David! Your comment reminded me of something someone told me the other day which was “improvement and success do not happen by mistake, we have to put in the effort everyday.”

  1. February 22, 2013

    […] from my readers, and you can read a few examples of my responses to readers in the past here, here, and here. So please, contact me. I love hearing from […]

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