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Mentor Wisdom: The Seven Things I Learned Since Becoming a Mentor

Quinton Mudd and his mentee Ismael were matched at the beginning of Ismael’s junior year in high school in the iMentor NYC mentoring program. Ismael was an average student who was interested in college but wasn’t exactly pulling the grades to get himself there. Almost 3 years later, Ismael is attending college in Ohio and texting Quinton nearly every week with a picture of the “A” he received on a recent paper or exam.  What has Quinton gleaned from his relationship with Ismael? Read below for the “7 Things I’ve Learned Since Becoming a Mentor," which Quinton wrote.

You can also check out Quinton and Ismael's video profile by clicking HERE.

1. We all have more to offer than we truly realize.  

Before I started mentoring, I had a low view of myself and my capacity to guide another human being throughout the life that they were living. I was in bad shape and felt as if I was in need of a mentor myself. My desire to do more in our communities forced me handle my inhibitions about mentoring and sign up to become a mentor. As I began to spend time with my mentee, I noticed that my experiences, failures, and successes implanted in my mind knowledge that could be beneficial to him. I have the knowledge of graduating from high school and college because I have done it. I have some knowledge of coping with failure in athletics or dealing with the strain created by a negative relationship with a parent. These are issues that many people go through and they’re also issues that many people have emerged from. I realized that I didn’t have to be superman and contain all the answers to the many questions he had. I just listened to him and responded to his thoughts, inquiries, and concerns by reaching into my mental rolodex and sharing what I felt was most appropriate. We all have the capacity to do that.

2. His life is his. My life is mine.

There were comments, assertions, and opinions that he would express that I didn’t necessarily agree with. There were times when he would dedicate his focus to things I didn’t feel were important or that I thought he was above. I had to ultimately come to the realization that he is living his own life and I cannot live his life for him. He is 12 years younger than myself and I cannot expect him to always think as myself or other people my age think. He will undoubtedly make mistakes and part of me would try to protect him from making some of the same mistakes that I made. However, with every mistake is an opportunity to learn. I’ll try my best to equip him with the tools needed to construct his manhood, but I cannot do it for him. It would be detrimental to him if I could.

3. Those we mentor can mentor us.

There is so much that I’ve learned from him during our three year correspondence with one another. I marvel at his work ethic and maturity at such a young age. I find myself often some his personal laws and values to my own life. I also realized that I cannot suggest to him that he run his life a certain way without me applying to my own life. I must practice what I preach and his life can help me develop and enhance my own personal philosophy.

4. Quality of time is greater than quantity.

I’ve seen how just a few simple words or encouragement can alter the minds of youth. The powerful words we use can change the whole vibration of a child’s thinking in both a positive or negative manner.  The words of someone that cares for you or that you hold in a high regard can change our way of thinking. Once our thinking changes then our behavior begins to change. If our minds are constantly being fed with positive thoughts by ourselves and others, our way of living will most definitely change for the better. Unfortunately, I’ve also seen people sit with children for hours and contribute absolutely nothing the mind of the kids they’re supposedly mentoring. We should spend a good amount of time with the people we’re mentoring, but how we utilize that time is most important.

5. Educate when you can. Don’t train.

Providing education for someone is completely different than training them. When you’re educating, you’re not only providing to them the knowledge and wisdom that you have, but you are also trusting them to be able to think critically even if it goes against your traditional thinking. Training someone is just expecting someone to go along with the rules (of thinking and acting) the trainer has set for them. A dog can be trained but a human must be given the tools to become adept at thinking independently.

6. Mentoring can and will change the world.

There are millions of little boys and girls in our country that are still waiting to be connected with a mentor. Imagine a world where every boy and girl is with someone that they can talk to without the subjective judgment that often comes from a parent or friend. There is a cause and effect for everything. What would the effect be if one million adults decided to dedicate their time to mentoring one child? How would our country look if these little boys and girls (many prisoners to their own inexperience) had a relationship with someone that would allow them to express themselves without fear of punishment or chastisement? Many of our issues as adults stem from events that have occurred during our childhood. We sweep many of these issues into our soul’s closet and hope that they’ll never rear their ugly heads again, but they always do. We must learn how to handle the issues we encounter and someone who has been through what we’re going through can help us overcome these obstacles.

7. The time is now.

We cannot expect the politicians, preachers, and teachers to rectify the many issues that exist within our communities. They’ve done a lot but they will never be able to do it all on their own. The masses of the people have just enough power and responsibility to see that life is approved upon in our nation. The time is now.