© 2016 JOHN K MCILWAIN.

"The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own." Benjamin Disraeli

During my 45-year career I have been mentored by, and have mentored, many men and women.   Each of these relationships has been rich, unique, personal, and rewarding, whether I was the mentee or mentor.   It is deeply satisfying to work with someone as they find their own direction and inner resources. 

 

Now that I have retired and reached an age at which I would be considered an Elder in a more traditional society, I am drawn to offering to others the same benefits of mentoring I received over the years.  It is one of the gifts of being an Elder to work with others and pass along what we have learned (often the hard way).  

There have been mentors since the beginning of time and today many people, including “life coaches,” offer mentoring, each focusing on different areas of life and

with a range of techniques.  This is a positive development and a reflection of how challenging life is today.  As the great American psychologist Abraham Maslow said,

“One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.”  Each of us faces many of these moments of choice in our lives, and I always found that it was easier for me to choose to move forward when I had the support of others, whether in a formal or informal relationship of mentoring.

 

What I value in a good mentor, and offer you, is to:

 

  • Accept you just as you are, with all your strengths and weaknesses;

  • Listen to you with care and love;

  • See the best in you even when you don’t;

  • See or sense abilities in you that you are not yet able to see or willing to accept; and

  • See opportunities for you that you may not see.

 

A mentor is like a close, personal friend who speaks frankly and with love.  A good mentor may play any number of roles, depending on what is most skillful.  These can include being:

 

  • A counselor, a trusted adviser with whom it feels safe to be fully open;

  • A motivator, someone who may inspire you to action, to take calculated risks, to leave your comfort zone, and helps you hold yourself accountable to your own goals;

  • A coach, helping you cultivate needed skills and disciplines, and to provide meaningful, positive, and constructive feedback;

  • A teacher, drawing on their own knowledge and experience;

  • A cheerleader, providing positive, empowering encouragement, celebrating victories and milestones, and providing encouragement through difficult times;

  • An adviser, helping to set realistic goals for the short-, mid-, and long-term; and

  • A connector, using their own network to connect you to a wider circle of resources and opportunities.

 

These are the qualities and characteristics I value and offer as a mentor. 

 

A skillful mentor:

 

  • Is secure in themselves, and shows a sense of genuine humility and a desire to serve. 

  • Respects  your wisdom, values, and goals.

  • Understands the importance of maintaining confidentiality and appropriate boundaries.  

  • Creates a safe space in which to explore strengths and weaknesses, successes and failure..

  • Takes a holistic approach, considering all aspects of your life and goals, including your family, and your physical, emotional, and spiritual health.  

  • Equips his or her mentee to be inter-dependent, and not exclusively dependent upon them; mentoring is successful to the degree that one outgrows the need for a mentor.

 

There is no one formula for successful mentoring; it grows out of the relationship, is fluid, and requires effort by both mentor and mentee.  It is a partnership and can be fun as well as intense.   There are many mentors and life-coaches you can find on-line, some no doubt excellent.  Frequently, however, these mentors and coaches follow a set program and apply it to everyone.  Valuable as these programs can be, I have found a more personal and open-ended approach to be more effective and longer lasting in the end.

 

I work in areas where I have experience and knowledge, and I care about the mentoring relationship and the people I work with.  The relationship can be long or short term, and depends on what you are seeking and the circumstances of your life.

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions about mentoring or how I work.  I generally suggest we meet first and get to know each other before we decide whether to work together.  We can do this in person or over the phone, Skype, or FaceTime.  I don't charge for this initial meeting.  

Why and How I Mentor and Coach