When I was young, soccer was my life. I was the kid who showed up early at practice to juggle a ball or shoot on net. I was lucky enough to have found a soccer coach that had the expertise and determination to turn me into a decent player. Thanks to him, I was good enough to earn a soccer scholarship at an American University.
I owe a lot to my old soccer coach. Without him, I would not have had the drive nor opportunity to play NCAA Division 1 soccer – nor the opportunity to be the guest coach at Sheffield United’s youth soccer practice. What an opportunity that was!
As the years go by, I’ve realized that true mentor/ mentee relationships are rare. Mine happened by accident. It just happened that our paths crossed at the right time and the right place. If you’ve come across such a scenario, hold onto it and never let go. It’s an experience you will never forget.
When the right working relationship strikes between two individuals, a mentor has the ability to motivate the mentee in ways that others cannot. It is as though they are connected by an invisible force, a shared purpose, if you will, that is strengthened by time and trust.
What is a mentor?
Mentors facilitate learning and help people through change and transitions in three ways. The first is coaching. The second is advisement. And the third is counseling.
Mentors as coaches
In this role, the mentor helps the mentee set goals for achievement. Repetition in behaviour is initiated and instigated by the mentor so that the imagined new identity becomes reality.
Mentors as advisors
In this role, the mentor supports the mentee with expert judgement. It is in this role that the mentor shares his knowledge and experience on the subject.
Mentors as counsellors
In this role, the mentor provides guidance to the mentee through interactive discussions that guide the mentee in the right direction.
Please note that these three components are inter-related, with one relationship style dominating another in a specific period in time. But above all else, the most important component is the trusting relationship. Without a trusting relationship, nothing can be accomplished.
For years, I’ve attempted to find a mentor that would be able to guide me to the next level of my career, but have repeatedly come up empty handed. My search has been by no means diligent; perhaps because of my trepidation towards such a powerful working relationship. Or perhaps it is because my last mentor has left some pretty big shoes to fill.