Here are some resources to guide your mentorship experience:
The following is a summary of principles provided in David A. Stoddard's book "The Heart of Mentoring." Summary provided by Tim Cary.
Principle #1: Effective mentors understand that living is about giving.
It may sound obvious but to be an effective mentor you have to possess a passion and desire for mentoring. Many mentors are not able to accomplish much with their partner because they treat the relationship as an obligation. In order to succeed in mentoring, the mentor’s heart has to be geared towards helping others by sacrificing his or her own personal resources. By giving part of your life to help someone else, you are able to experience satisfaction that is greater than any pleasure coming from things, goals, and achievements.
Principle #2: Effective mentors see mentoring as a process that requires perseverance.
A key point that mentors should be aware of is that it is not beneficial to schedule the growth of their partners. Change is difficult and some may not be willing or able to alter their lives as fast as others. It can be discouraging to a partner if their mentor tries to rush their development or set a specific agenda for their progression. The goal of the mentor should be to persevere through periods of slow growth, requiring patience, persistence, and time. There is no set time limit in which a mentoring relationship must take place.
Principle #3: Effective mentors open their world to their mentoring partners.
Giving good advice and direction is an important aspect of mentoring, but mentoring partners are often looking for something more. They want to know that there is hope in their situation and that their mentors can relate to them on some level. Mentors should avoid putting themselves “above” their partners. By opening up about experiences in their own life, a mentor can effectively gain the trust of the individual they are mentoring.
Principle #4: Effective mentors help mentoring partners find their passion.
One good way to identify a person’s occupational passion is to get that person to think about what they would want to do if money were no option. To help mentoring partners apply their passion in their career, mentors can use a process that uses three steps: discovery, tinkering, and reality. First, they can help the partner discover his or her passion. Then mentor and partner can then think of ways to combine passion and occupation. Finally, the mentor is encouraged to research possible options and how to make those options a reality.
Principle #5: Effective mentors are comforters who share the load.
Along with being someone whom mentoring partners can confide in, mentors should also be able to comfort their partners when they are experiencing pain in life. Comfort is about “extending compassion, listening, serving, and being available when needed,” rather than simply giving advice. These simple things are the most effective, because we cannot eliminate others’ pain. We can only help them find the meaning of the pain and help them get through it.
Principle #6: Effective mentors help turn personal values into practice.
Establishing priorities is another goal of the mentor. He or she wants to make sure that their mentoring partner is able to realize their individual values and react in a way that will allow their priorities to reflect those values. Three primary factors that influence a person’s personal values are how they react to crises, passions, and needs. These are the things that mentors should encourage their mentoring partners to focus on in determining their values. After values are defined, priorities can then be set based on those values. Setting up a two-way heart-to-heart accountability process can help keep mentoring partners on track with their priorities.
Principle #7: Effective mentors model character.
Character is “the proof of who you really are as revealed after being tested and refined by life’s experiences,” and it is the substance of mentoring. In order to model character, mentors must model humility, meaning they should put others before themselves which leads to service, the practice of giving up our own rights and resources to assist others. Many people believe humility leads to weakness, but it actually leads to strength, power, and courage with a focus on benefiting others. Demonstrating humility and service should be the focus of mentors in order to set an example for their partner.
Principle #8: Effective mentors affirm the value of spirituality.
One of the most common misconceptions is that spirituality is the same as religion. Religion involves rituals, traditions, and exclusivity, while spirituality implies a relationship between a person and a “higher being.” The goal of a mentor is to challenge their mentoring partner to examine his or her beliefs. They should not teach a specific belief, but instead encourage their partner to investigate the difficult questions in life, such as, “What is life all about?” It is important for the mentor to help them identify beliefs and values they want to shape their lives. Three guidelines that could help mentors prepare for spiritual discussion are: look at yourself first, don’t force your opinions, and consult with original sources.
Principle #9: Effective mentors recognize that Mentoring + Reproduction = Legacy.
When someone thinks about what they want to dedicate their life to they are creating a vision for the future. This vision can outlive an individual, and one of the most meaningful things a mentor can do is extend their vision to their mentoring partner. They can do this simply from investing time and energy in another person and seeking to make a positive difference in their life. When they begin to see people they mentor becoming mentors a legacy is created. A legacy describes what a person leaves behind long after they have passed. As mentoring partners become mentors, they are able to continue their mentor’s legacy and invest in someone themselves.
Principle #10: Effective mentors go for it!
There is no set of how-tos for mentoring. If you have a heart for mentoring and apply the principles given here, then you are ready to become a mentor. Mentors should look inside themselves for the answers to the how-to questions, as there are no set of instructions and no set agenda. Mentoring implies a relationship, and relationships do not follow any kind of road map. People must navigate the road of mentorship figuring it out as they go along. It is never too early and never too late to become a mentor, so go for it!