January is, among other things, National Mentoring Month. I learned this because I am a part of Big Brothers, Big Sisters, an organization which empowers young men and women through involvement with adult mentors. Often these children and teenagers have no inter-action with adults other than their teachers. They often come from one parent households or are being raised by relatives instead of parents. Having adult to talk to about their problems is a life saver for some of these young people.
The Fontana Regional Library is a good source for information on mentoring. Books by well known people such as Tony Dungy, the former coach of the Indianapolis Colts and the late John Wooten, basketball coach of the UCLA Bruins and others are available from your local branch library. Dungy’s book, The Mentor Leader, focuses on team building but some of the advice he gives is useful for one on one mentoring. John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach at UCLA, pays homage to the people whose lives he used to build the values he lived and passed on to others in A Game Plan for Life: the Power of Mentoring. The co-author, Don Yeager, also interviewed people Wooden mentored during his long life.
Wes Moore is not as well-known as Dungy and Wooden, in his book, The Other Wes Moore, he contrasts the lives of two men, living in the same city two miles apart; one a combat veteran and a Rhodes scholar, the other sent to prison for the rest of his life for his role in killing a policeman. Moore gives credit to his family for the support they gave him, even when he had brushes with the law as a young man. As the reader sees, in his telling of the other Wes Moore’s story, that kind of support was not present in the other man’s life.
Mika Brzezinski writes in her book, Know Your Value: Women, Money, and Getting What You’re Worth, with regard to women in the workplace, “It’s very important for older women, those who have gone before, to give a hand up and mentor younger women in a consistent, sustained way…”
Mentoring can be done in a variety of places in your life: the family, a place of worship, the workplace, civic clubs, social groups, etc. When we think of mentors in our lives, we remember pastors, teachers, supervisors, and peers among others. You don’t have to be a coach, a teacher, a minister or anything else in particular to be a mentor. Situations present themselves when you least expect them–sometimes called teachable moments–for you to mentor somebody, whether it be a child, a peer, a co-worker, a team member, etc.