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Published:November 8th, 2006 03:53 EST
Success Through Quality Mentoring

Success Through Quality Mentoring

By Terry Sumerlin (Mentor/Columnist)

I recently heard an orthopedic surgeon relate something that happened in the emergency room while he was doing his residency. He said a man came in, with his fingers cut off both hands. When asked what happened, his response was, “I thought I’d try trimming the hedges with the lawn mower.”

The next night another man came in with the very same injury. His explanation?” “When I saw my next door neighbor holding his mower over his hedges, I thought maybe he'd hit on a better way to trim the hedges.”

I guess his mentor let him down. How about your mentors? Everyone has mentors. Are you learning from the right ones? Do you have a clear idea of what a mentor is and what you want from mentors?

According to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, a mentor is “a trusted counselor or guide, tutor, coach.” This definition sets forth some significant points.

Obviously, the mentor would have to know more, or have more experience, than the mentee. This doesn’t mean knowing more about everything. A mentor simply knows more about selling, business, goal setting, personal training – or possibly how to operate a lawn mower. Whatever field of endeavor we are seeking to master, in that field, our mentor needs to have a proven record. It does little good for a blind man to have a blind guide.

Our mentor also needs to be someone we can consult on a frequent, or as needed, basis. He or she must be willing to help and accessible. Keep in mind, however, that mentors can be historical figures or writers we’ve never met. They can steadily mentor us through their lives and their words. I’ve never met Ronald Reagan. But, through books, The Great Communicator, has long been one of my mentors.

A mentor should also, according to our definition, be trustworthy. This not only means one who has accurate information in our specific area of interest, but also one who, while giving general advice or setting an example, seeks our best interest. This person, though possibly not an expert in the operation of a lawn mower or an expert in many other areas, would not typically give or exemplify bad judgment in any area.

Last, but certainly not least, mentors should inspire us. This is a large part of what coaching is all about. Many experts have knowledge or experience. A true mentor has the ability to communicate what he/she knows and the desire to inspire others to listen, learn and follow. It’s not hard to find folks with a discouraging word and a can’t-do attitude. A true mentor, though, is a winner who believes that with the right coaching all can be winners..

To someone you might well be THAT coach. If you think mentoring is just what is done for you, think again. The Dead Sea is dead because it merely receives. I would urge you to live by what you receive and by what you give.

BARBER-OSOPHY: To increase your opportunity for success, be careful in selecting mentors and conscientious about being a mentor.

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