Mentoring Works Both Ways!, by Michael Arce, Jr.

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The Webster’s definition of a mentor is: “A person looked upon for wise advice and guidance. A mentor can also be sought after for spiritual or moral direction, support, or perspective.

Who qualifies as a mentor? Many people, even those who may not realize that they can be great mentors!  In my opinion, one can qualify to be a mentor by having acquired knowledge through study of the actual subject or topic needed. Others may have obtained sufficient knowledge via trial and error; as their experiences in life have taught them well. Still others may have formed their own opinion as to who qualifies as a mentor. Regardless, we can all agree that the mutual desire of both the mentor and the mentee is to have a positive experience and outcome.

Creating a mentoring relationship is a two-way process.  The mentee must desire someone’s help and guidance, and the selected mentor must be able to provide the requested assistance with a willing and cheerful heart. Personally, I prefer someone who I think can relate to me, and I to him; someone who has gone through what I am going through or something similar. Other individuals may not need to relate to their mentor, but rather they may seek professional help. They may feel more comfortable going to someone who has obtained specific degrees or skills that are specific to their needs. Everyone must decide what is best for them and their situation. But, given all of that, most people in need of advice and guidance seek individuals who project the qualities of patience and understanding, as well as friendliness and caring!

The ongoing mentoring relationship is also a two-way street. As the relationship grows, both parties understand and communicate better with each other.  More importantly, not only is the individual seeking mentoring benefiting from the sessions, but the mentor also benefits!  Most good mentors, regardless of what they might be going through, push whatever their problems are to the side to readily attend to their mentee’s issues. As they think through the solutions and advice to give, they are either remembering or relearning life’s lessons that will help them in their own lives! Mentoring is truly a “win—win” relationship that enriches both parties!  Through the mentor’s act of selflessness, they not only guide someone in the right direction, but they also receive the strength and direction to deal with their own dilemmas. One hand washes the other, and they both wash the face.

Let’s face it, all of us at one time or another in our lives reach a point where we cannot manage on our own accord. I know I have! Whatever we might be going through might be too difficult or overwhelming. In that state of being overwhelmed, our thoughts may become clouded and we might lose sight of all good judgement and decision-making skills. It is in those instances where it is truly a blessing to be able to reach out and to find a good mentor for advice and. guidance. One who will, at the drop of a dime, put his/her own issues and needs to the side to go and help someone else in need. To those people we say thank you, and encourage you to please continue to do what you excellently do. Your efforts are not overlooked and are greatly appreciated!

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Go ahead, reach out and be a mentor to someone in need.  If you have one hour a month that you can use to correspond with a worthy inmate who is working hard to make changes, or just needs a friend to talk things through with, please contact me: and I will be happy to personally assist you and guide your efforts.  You can make a big difference in someone’s life—and enjoy a better life yourself!

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