Mentoring: Unwrapping the Gift



Recently I posed the question on LinkedIn, "Have you had a dream that's taken a year or many years to come true?" One person responded that he had but that he was keeping his dream to himself. I understood. You have to be careful with whom you share what’s most precious to you. I once heard a saying, "You can either be a dream maker or a dream breaker. Which are you? Do you come with a listening ear and a pair of pom poms for those who share deeply with you, or do you inject discouragement?

Let’s be clear. Dreaming shouldn’t be about finding yes men or women. Indeed, dreamers need others to give perspective. But they also need encouragement. If you are hesitant about a friend’s dream, can the dream be tweaked rather than discarded? Who do you have in your life to help bring clarity and focus to your dreams? Who can mentor you and who can’t?

As we near Christmas, I am thankful for the gift of mentors. Finding a mentor is about deliberately seeking someone for consistent advice. Preferably it’s an ongoing relationship instead of sporadic interactions. Hopefully he or she is older or more experienced than you in the particular area.

Personally, I’ve cultivated a few mentoring relationships and am so thankful for them. One that stands out is my relationship with my friend, Ron. Ron’s got almost a half-century on me. Odds are, whatever questions I have, he’s been there and done that. He’s also enthusiastic about me and my dreams.

A few years ago in particular, I had more questions than answers. My optimism was in the red. As my friendship with Ron developed, I felt a surge of hope. For the last two years, Ron and I have maintained contact every couple weeks. Another aspect of our mentoring relationship is that I make sure to ask how he is doing.

Do you have one or perhaps a few relationships like this in your life? If not, you’re really missing out! What is stopping you? Write down a couple questions that keep bugging you. Who can you find to ask about them? Somebody you know cares and would love to encourage you. It’s up to you to choose carefully and to tell the person that you value his or her advice. You never know how he or she might help you!