A Sustainable Mentor
Do you need a mentor? Do you know what mentors do? I am often surprised that some expect mentors not to question and challenge them.
A sustainable mentor is not your parent, sibling, or lover. But, like a parent, he may concern himself with the people you date. He may question the hours you keep and the choices you make. He may witness your tears and offer a hug that makes you feel safe and cared for. Like a sibling he may share your secrets and wish alongside you. He may bring you lunch or remember your birthday. He may introduce you to people and challenge you to be better than you imagined. Like a lover, he may give you a gift just because. He may remind you that you are beautiful. He may give you an example of the type of man you would like to marry.
In addition to these, do not refuse the uniqueness of a sustainable mentor. He is a benefactor, a broker, and a consultant. As a benefactor, he will invest in your vision both emotionally and financially. He will listen intently as you describe your plan. He will give his advice and impress upon you to honor his investment. As a broker, he will connect you to markets and coordinate your network. He will also rehearse your presentation and give you a pep talk. He will encourage your ethical accounting and encourage you to thrive beyond your instinct to merely survive. As a consultant, he will guide you through budgeting of your time and finances. He will challenge your vision for advancement and growth. He will help you to see the end result and long-term outcomes of your present choices.
Considering the Mentor’s Family
A sustainable mentor has provided for his family, and gives to you out of excess. You do not have to fear that his family is in want. Rather, the sustainable mentor soon introduces you and assures you that his family is now yours. He invites you into a fellowship that exemplifies both physical and mental health. You see that the challenges and struggles are common to all, but communication, honesty, and intentionality with consideration overcome fear, anger, and disappointment. You may ask what cannot be given, but you never offend by asking.
In Return to the Mentor
In return for this and more fitted specifically to your unique needs, a mentor only asks that you succeed. Your success and ability to reward his risk with achievement validates the mentor. Your achievement silences any doubt that intimacy, authenticity, and vision can multiply beauty and result in community.
[A version of this article appeared Dec 10, 2012 on coachmethod.com]