Men, this summary is based on two phone bridges held on February 25, and Mar 4, 2012. The purpose of the calls was for men to share their experiences around being a mentor and/or a mentee. My purpose in sharing my notes with you is to stimulate the discussion and the practice of conscious mentoring among ourselves and in our various communities: at work, in men’s groups, religious organizations and all the other communities, including our families and where we live. I invite you to add the richness of your experience while not debating the experience of anyone else.
- Defining Mentoring
- What is Wisdom?
- What Works and What Has Not Worked
- How can we raise the Conscious Awareness of Mentoring in the Community?
Two broad categories:Task Mentoring and Life Mentoring.
Tasking Mentoring happens in the work place, in team sports, recreational activities, on NWTAs and so on. Task mentoring is usually time limited and specific to the task at hand. Life mentoring focuses on the needs of the mentee in dealing with life issues including relationships, spiritual guidance, and can include specific tasks.
Life Mentoring is relational as opposed to hierarchical mentoring usually associated with task mentoring. We are men, brothers and friends versus having a teacher-student relationship. Life mentoring is a two-way street — although the predominant flow is from the mentor to the mentee, the mentor is open to sharing his own struggles with the mentee and to receiving from the mentee as well.
“Tor-mentoring” — tough love, holding men accountable. Life skills and task skills, empathetic listening without fixing.
Mentoring includes teaching, support, living both Gold and Shadow.
Riding shotgun on someone else’s processes while being clear about what the mentee is looking for. It is about behavior, taking time to think, and then taking action.
Helping — wait for the questions, set up a parameter, some way to talk and interact; reflective listening (“in my own words what I hear you saying is…”).
What is Wisdom?
Five categories (with room for overlap and recognizing we may use different terms to describe the same thing):
- Wisdom from innocence — the ability to see a thing for what it is without judgment or projection and to name it. “Out of the mouths of babes come words of wisdom” and the child in The Emperor’s New Clothes who was the only one who could see and name that the Emperor was naked.
- Wisdom from training and experience — the acquired wisdom of doing a thing and being familiar with it.
- Wisdom from maturity — the shifts in perspective that come with the passage of time; the understanding that I do not look at things the same way I did in the past.
- Wisdom from intuition — the sum total of all that is within me coming together at this moment for this situation. I may not “see” how all the dots connect, they just do.
- Wisdom from Spirit/spirit — When Creator/Spirit pours his/hers/its/their heart into my heart and I “know” something that brings clarity/revelation/insight to all present, something that I cannot have learned through my own experience, training (through any of the above 4 kinds of wisdom) etc.
“Wise” becomes “wisdom” when it is shared and cannot do so any other way.
Wisdom is also about seeing the larger picture and how the smaller picture fits. It is about putting things into context: As I stumble through life, if I pick myself up and keep going and if I learn a lesson then that lesson is potentially wisdom.
Wisdom is the boiling down of experience into something that is useful, and it may not be useful to me, but to others.
- Listen, Listen and Listen some more and then ask questions! for clarification; as well as thought questions so the mentee works through the issue himself.
- Invite, suggest, recommend. Invite the mentee to consider; suggest looking at the issue from a different perspective; recommend a course of action.
- Let the man have his experience and then make suggestions.
- Teach him to mentor himself!
- Define Agreements.
- Make agreements and keep them. Can be short term, even one day.`
- Renegotiate agreements when needed.
- Continuing negotiation of the relationship.
- Authenticity, Honesty, Openness. Be real. Share the benefit of your life’s successes and failures. If the mentor blows it in some way, he fully owns it. Let the mentee mentor the mentor. The mentor models for the mentee how to be a mentee, while allowing the mentee to practice being a mentor. This can build a three dimensional relationship (intellectual, psychological and spiritual) between mentor and mentee.
- Meta-Mentoring — share with the mentee what you are doing and why, e.g. after asking a thought provoking question that stimulated the mentee coming up with his own answer say something like, “Notice what has just happened here — I asked you “xyz?” and you were able to come up with your own answer instead of me giving you my answer. This is one of the techniques I use when I mentor someone. It is a technique you can use as you begin mentoring others.”
- Grandfathering — encourage the mentee to become a mentor or to increase his own mentoring of others.
- Mentoring from shadow — (This is a complex issue with many variations, here are few we came up with) it includes having agendas, fixing, and having an inappropriate attachment to outcomes (he MUST learn this!); also vicarious process work — doing my work through another man by facilitating him doing his work so I don’t have to actually do my work. Anything done “for his own good.”
- Giving away “THE Answer.” As well as withholding “THE Answer.” The Mentor leads from behind and from alongside the mentee. When I just give him the answer I lead from in front and rob him of the joy of discovery and the exercise of developing access to his own intuitive wisdom. When I withhold the answer, (the mentee is surrounded by so much forest that the tree he is looking for is hidden from him and the mentor insists the mentee find the one tree the mentor wants him to see), then I am leading from nowhere and the effect to the mentee is usually a sense of being abandoned, lost, inadequate.
- Telling a man what to do using should, must, have to, need to language. These terms can be heard as negating the free choice of the mentee.
- Not keeping agreements, not owning it and not getting back into integrity.
- Honor mentoring, in whatever form (task or life mentoring), whenever I see it. Affirm the mentor (I can see you mentored him well), affirm the mentee (you did a great job as green man, did your mentor help you understand how to be an effective green man?).
- Meta-Mentoring. Talk to your mentees about your style of mentoring, your philosophy of mentoring, the techniques and tools you use and encourage them use their version of those tools with their mentees.
- Grandfathering. Every man has something he can teach another man or share with another man some wisdom he has gained in some area of life. Every man has some aspect of life in which wisdom from another could benefit him. So encourage your mentees to have their own mentees and help them figure out what that might look like.
- Phone bridges and workshops. Trust your community’s built-in wisdom reservoir (Seven men listening without judgment to each other came up with all of this!!)
- Talk about mentoring in I-Groups and at community events.
- Declared Mentors (similar to Declared Elders) – Honor men who make themselves available to mentor others.
- Make yourself available — announce whenever appropriate “I am available to mentor men.”
- Create a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) about mentoring (this Summary is a good start on that).
Men, the above represents the collected wisdom of seven men. The richness here is but the tip of the iceberg. I invite you to add your experience to what has been summarized here.
Spencer Eubank, Majestic Wolf, Certified Enrollment King
2011-2012 ManKind Project Los Angeles Elder Body Council Leader
Ritual Elder in Training