Consider a teen looking to solve a problem with relationships. Think about a business person looking to climb to the next level of the corporate ladder. Unable to succeed, they both need help finding the source of their inability to reach their goal. There are many aspects to being a Mentor, but finding that source should be the number one goal of a Mentor who is asked to walk alongside another person.
A school counselor, a concerned parent, a loving grandparent, or a church small group leader would all be great Mentors to help the teen find that source. A fellow employee with a better understanding of the corporate structure, an outside business consultant, or even a handful of friends would fall into the many mentoring possibilities for the business person. Pre-existing relationships between the people involved make it easier to push past the symptoms and reach the true source. This is because the source may lie in a long-held attitude or thought patterns, a handful of misunderstandings, or simply a lack of knowledge. The power is at the source.
If a 9-yr. boy’s mother finds that her son cannot talk one morning, her goal would be to help the boy to talk again as soon as possible. The mom may ask her son a question when he walks into the kitchen to eat breakfast. A very raspy, almost non-existent voice answers. Is her first inclination to take him to a speech therapist? If the boy spoke in meaningful dialogue the day before, and she simply could not hear him well, the obvious answer is “No”. She would call the doctor’s office and set up an appointment.
Before the doctor examines the young patient, is his first thought, “We will probably need to teach this boy to talk all over again”? Again, the obvious answer is “No”! The doctor would use all of his diagnostic equipment and experience to find the source of the problem. He might see an inflamed throat and heavy mucus, and there might be a rise in the boy’s temperature. However, the doctor has still not reached the SOURCE – the cause of all of these other things. These are merely symptoms. The source is likely a virus. Whatever it is, the first step to helping the boy get well is finding the source and making a game plan to overcome it. The power is at the source.
When the houses in your neighborhood lose all electricity due to a storm, you can go and flip the switch on every one of your lamps over and over again. Another member of the family may turn the stove off and on, and adjust the thermostat on the AC as high or low as they wish. You might even flip the main breaker. It is likely that none of these will get the results you want. There are symptoms that could make it look as if these might be the source of the breakdown. However, the electricity probably was lost somewhere long before it reached your home. The source of the problem may be a transformer or a line down a few hundred feet away or it could be the entire power grid for a particular area. Only exploration will reveal the source. It could take only minutes to get the lights back on – or it may take days. Finding the source is critical – because the power is at the source.
These are simple analogies of problems that occur in the course of daily life. However, locating the source of each problem is not always simple. Similarly, finding what is standing in the way of a mentee’s ability to accomplish their goal is not always an easy task. Just as in our examples above, a trained and dedicated person is counted on to break the problem down. To bring the source to light.
It is imperative for the Mentor to listen carefully to discern the difference between idle conversation and true meaningful information. The person being mentored must also be willing to be honest with the Mentor. There must be willingness on both people’s parts to create some bonds and build a relationship. Only through that relationship – whether it lasts two days, two weeks, two years or a lifetime – will the Mentor and the protégé be able to truly make headway. Striving toward finding the source will give them what they need to build their plan to move forward. It may take a short time or a very long time.
Of course, like the doctor we mentioned above, the Mentor must be prepared. He or she must have, and use, a handful of diagnostic “equipment” available in the form of questions, insight, and experiences. The Mentor must be willing to continue to grow through his/her other relationships, because experience with others will always go a long way in finding the source in each situation. It will be worthwhile to make the journey to find the source. Progress will be made by all parties if they will remember that the power is at the source.