True mentors are few and far between. I count myself blessed to have had more than one. I have professed many times on Communicators Anonymous that Kami Huyse is one of my mentors. The timing for this post falls on the heels of my own post thanking Kami for her mentorship and friendship.
While Kami is away this week, she has asked me to step in and post to Communication Overtones. A special thank you to Kami and all of you for allowing me to contribute. I am honored to introduce Kami, my mentor, as she introduces one of her mentors.[Kami Huyse]
I think mentorship and being mentored are both important because they require us to admit that we don’t know everything. It requires a certain humbleness from both those that are mentoring and those being mentored.
There is really no room for arrogance in the relationship.
Shel Israel, co-author of Naked Conversations, is a mentor of mine. He took time for me when I was first started Communication Overtones to welcome me and to help me refine my ideas. He hasn’t always agreed with me, but he has always respected my opinion. He has included me in conversations where I was clearly the junior person. And he has handled his own imperfections with phenomenal grace.
Just the kind of things that make a quality mentor:
- Testing Ideas
With that in mind, I asked him a few questions about mentoring and what it looks like in today’s connected world.
With the social media arena being so young, do you still think it is important to mentor people and be mentored as well?
I really don't see mentorship changing in that light because of social media. Mentoring is about the personal handing down of wisdom from one generation to another. It is a form of giving and a form of leaving behind. We all benefit at one point in our lives, if we have a mentor. Later the circle comes around and we benefit from mentoring.
How do you think that mentorship looks in today's Internet connected society?
I've often said that humans haven't changed much over the Millennia. What changes are the tools. Social media diminishes the barriers of geography to a significant–but not total–degree.
Who has been a mentor to you?
Charlie O'Brien was only five years older than me, but he shaped me as a journalist, and as a human being in every way. He has been gone for five years, but I still stop to think: ‘What would Charlie tell me to do?' or ‘Charlie would have been proud,' etc. You can read more about my relationship and who he was here:
What are the characteristics of an effective mentor? How much time does it take?
Mentors vary greatly on what they do. I can only speak for myself.
What I try to give more than anything else is encouragement and I don't mentor people who I do not believe in. I almost always discuss business issues, but from the perspective of what is right on a human level, not a bottom line level. I try to understand where someone wants to go, and will do what I can to help along the route. I make introductions for them when I can be helpful.
Time is a huge variable. In a crisis, when I'm really needed, I may get intensely involved for brief periods of time. But mostly, I just answer questions as I am asked. I try very hard to neither meddle nor manage someone. Mentoring is different.