Saturday, August 16, 2014

Mentoring, No Testosterone, FollowUp

The meeting begins: “Please tell us who you are and why you’re here.” She starts the short way to me around the table. Very quickly it’s my turn.

“As I said in my blog, …, I began — having no idea I was going to share this — and I spoke of my testosterone laced imaginings of being a big brother, my “Big Brother without the Testosterone” take on this mentoring, and the tightness of my stomach thinking of trying to mentor someone with the wisdom to survive being homeless. Nobody laughed – well, there was a chuckle, or maybe two, but it was clear they were laughing with me.

As the leader spoke more about the program, and we progressed through the rather good hand-out she had prepared, a couple of things emerged for me.

This is not yet a Basilica program; it’s an initiative, an idea and a vision that will have to grow flesh and blood.

The other thing that occurred to me is that the people who would provide the leadership for that growth were in the room with me. ( And I did not feel myself called to be one of them. )

The hand-out included kind of a best-practices list of things that work for a mentoring program. As we worked through the list, additional items of clarity emerged.

Mentoring is about establishing a trusting relationship with the person being mentored ( not about teaching skills ).

The trusting relationship is about meeting the needs of the person being mentored ( not about meeting the needs of the mentor ).

The needs of the person being mentored might be any of a number of needs across a wide range of possibilities, including career, employability skills, and academic success.
It occurred to me that, “I can do this.” In a structured environment I can establish a relationship with just about anyone … it’s only in a quasi-social setting that I’m toast I have trouble navigating the waters.

In my excitement, as she was obtaining our availability to attend training sessions, I failed to look at my calendar and forgot about my just-committed-to Monday writing class. I thus didn't mention I'm not available Monday evenings. Monday is a good night for the most people, so the Mentoring Training sessions will be held on Mondays.

Later, as I begin putting those training sessions in my calendar, I see the writing class, previously entered. With much embarrassment and an enormous strain on my integrity, I prepare an email. My time as a mentor will be on indefinite hold.

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