How Do You Define a Mentor?

As soon as I started chatting with Liane over the phone, I felt her sincerity, joyfulness, and giving spirit. As I became acquainted with her writing, I could see that it mirrored who she was. Authenticity is no small thing, and that is why I have invited Liane to be a guest blogger. She’s not ghost writing, she’s sharing her voice with all of you. While I have shared my overall approach to personal development, what you’re going to read is Liane’s take on how we can continue to strive individually and as a community… and in both English and Spanish! My conversations with Liane reminded me of the work I am engaged, as an advocate, for CCLAC, a non profit organization focused on intergenerational learning and mentoring. The connection between Liane’s perspective, my connection with CCLAC, and the work of their founder Mike Rohrbach is no coincidence. Liane Ojito is from Miami, Florida and is the Chief Creative at The Word Post, where she writes on a wide range of topics. Liane is also a Food Writer for the Murfreesboro Pulse, and holds a double major from Florida International University in Advertising and Psychology. Welcome Liane!

Abrazos!

Enrique

Read in English

The dictionary describes a mentor as “an experienced and trusted advisor.” That being said, experienced in what? And, how do you develop that trust? To me, a mentor is someone who has achieved something that I would like to. For example, an elderly married couple who have attained longevity and traversed the obstacles of life together. The laughter of a child. The amazing power of will to overcome incomprehensible situations.

How do you wish to grow?

The busyness of life may lead us to discover needs, tasks and chores. However, do you stop to reflect on deeper needs? Yours? Your families’? The quality of the interactions that fill your day? It seems to me, the distractions that bombard our everyday lives have found a way to impact even our most important and intimate relationships.

That begs the next question. What standards do you set for your relationships?

I think that if we allow all the texts, emails and robocalls to interrupt the qualitative time we are experiencing, we are inherently obstructing our ability to have full-hearted thoughts, express emotions and essentially discover new ideas and solutions. In this time, of communication addiction, have we become unable to really connect?

Perhaps, agreeing to standards may be a way to combat this. Simple ones, like put down the phone during meals or leave the phone at the door when visiting elders, unless to take pictures or share something of value. What do you think?

In case I’m speaking too passionately let me provide an example. Once upon a time, in the not so distant past, people read and discussed books, discussed ideologies, spoke on the phone and only watched movies at the theatre. The TV had real news and lighthearted entertainment. There was some sense of quality control and a high benchmark for entertainment standards. These days, try and engage in a conversation and without hesitation someone will look away and begin typing, to text, check their email or check social media gossip. Is it that we are not fully happy where we are?

How does this make you feel?

In all honesty, it enrages me. Divided attention, without so much as an “excuse me” is the new norm. It should enrage you too, I think, enough to the point that you want to do something about it. I see kids these days at parties watching videos, news headlines, playing games while entirely ignoring the people around them. This past Christmas, I was at a party, and there was a table of teenagers that sat around the table and didn’t look up from their phone. I was the only one that was bothered and I made a point to say something. Other adults seemed to think I should accept that as normal, “kids these days,” they said. “Kids these days?” I replied. No. Adults not teaching the kids these days. Adults allowing kids to find YouTube mentors to replace relationships within their families, communities and actual surroundings. What can we do about it? Suggestions please! Not be drawn into that silence, I think.

The Irony of connecting without communicating.

So have you ever been to a party and it is OK to be there and eat and yet disconnect on a phone from the people that are feeding you and are vying for your attention? Is something else more important than being present? Is it an addiction? Is it bad manners? Both, I think. Not to mention a challenge of mentorship that we must lead a “lost generation” back to the world of sentient beings where they relate in real time with those around them. And, I’m not only speaking of youth, so many others fall into this.

Well, we all share an obligation to mentor children, and be there for our elders, by modeling a behavior and defining what is and isn’t acceptable all the while ourselves finding ways to deal with the same demands. When my grandfather fell ill, I got off Facebook. Why? I realized the degree of my relationships were suffering because people somehow had changed the notion of calling to see how you are doing and simply posting on a message board. I did not wish for shallow wishes on a social media outlet. I decided, if someone cared enough to dial my phone number, then and only then, would I share with them the deepest of my sentiments. Only then would my life be available to those closest to me.

And, wow! I don’t miss it one bit. Instead I’ve been liberated to have the time to look people in the eye, put my phone down and provide my undivided attention. It’s a powerful thing, attention, when you have a  grasp of your own focus, then you can direct it to that which is truly important to you. And not what is being pushed down your throat.

What and who are important to you?

Do you have a mentor? Who are they? What do they exemplify and how has that changed over the years? If you are fortunate enough to have family, are they your central core of mentorship? Do you have other ideals? Do you have close friends? Children? Is the quality of your relationships where you would like them to be? Do you share your appreciation and compassionate sentiments openly?

For me, a mentor can be anyone, of any age, that exemplifies characteristics that you wish to attain.

Goals, values, virtues, and feelings alike. From a great relationship, to a talent, dedication, strength of character, willpower, grace, joy, education or success. Your value system, is the garden you tend to, and you too are a mentor. From the way you present yourself, to the way you speak, to the choices you make and the places you go to feed your soul and nourish your mind. Where is that? Who is that? What and who shares your aspirations? For yourself, family and community?

To me, there is no denying that as a child I always wanted to be a grown up. They could drive, do what they wanted and tell me what to do. Also as a child, I remember hearing Whitney Houston sing “Greatest Love of All” and I felt empowered as a child. Then when I learned of Chinese culture and the reverence they have for the elderly, I couldn’t have agreed more. To this day, I wonder how society has allowed our most experienced mentors, end up feeling like burdens.

Is it not our responsibility to tend to the most knowledgeable and experienced members of society?

Age does not equal knowledge, however experiences do provide lessons, if someone is willing to listen closely enough. Is it not through sharing we learn of a new perspective that shines light onto ourselves and others?

A group of people staring at phone screens denies the opportunity to shine in the present. What would our sky look like without stars? We can not accept lights that refuse to shine around us.

Has Google replaced our most knowledgeable elderly?

This generation seems to think that looking something up on a search engine replaces real knowledge. Their divided needs are more important than anyone else’s. Yet, I will not accept this as the ultimate truth. It is a new challenge that must be overcome, together as a population, and I invite you to please share your thoughts and ideas on mentorship and family with me. Together we can change deteriorating norms and together we will overcome obstacles if we focus on this shared goal, uniting families, generations and humanity to be healthy in heart and mind. In your search for mentors, remember you too are one.

Knowledge is not simply fact based, is it?

As a matter of fact, I remember stories more than schoolbook facts. Percentages and calculations may be search-able. But, true to life stories of real life challenges and overcoming them is what feeds our soul and spirit in the difficulties we traverse.

I have so many mentors, if I name one I’d deny another and it feels precarious to even attempt to make mention, however, my grandfather, grandmother who came to this country in their 50s without speaking the language and raised a new generation in a new country are up there. As are their offspring who had to go through high-school and get paddled without knowing why. As are so many authors, stories and true tales of achieving in spite of obstacles.

So what are your goals? Who has found a way to keep shining and how do you keep shining. There are so many people to credit us for our leaned individual willpower which strengthens all that have the opportunity to listen. Everyone has a story to tell that can shine light into you and mentor you, and perhaps give you the opportunity to shine light into them. If only you are willing to listen and be present. So, for the sake of us all, let’s not allow shallow one-sided videos to permeate society and demand more of our everyday interactions. Look in peoples eyes and be ready and willing to listen and engage. Mentorship is a two-sided interaction that can happen at any moment, if you are willing to step-up to it and participate in the present.

Step up

Thank you for reading, and feel free to share your thoughts with me on Linkedin.

Liane

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