I couldn’t wait for Dad to get home that evening. You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I peered around the bushes to scan for his car while delicately holding the yellow envelope careful not to bend it.
I got all A’s for the first grading period of my middle school career, and I couldn’t wait to see the reaction on his face! It felt like days before his car finally appeared from the corner and pulled in the driveway. He beeped the horn twice to acknowledge seeing me as I jumped frantically up and down. Knowing I had something to say, he parked the car immediately and pulled down his window. With my chest puffed out, I handed him my report card through his car window. He matched his smile with mine and scanned the report. After a few seconds, he proudly said, “Great job, Neil. Now, I think it’s time you get a tutor.”
A tutor? But, I got all A’s. I didn’t need any help. I had an instant imagine of me sitting in the corner of the classroom with a dunce cap while my classmates pointed at me laughing. My shoulders lowered, my chest deflated, and my head dropped. What did I do wrong?
Dad could see my reaction, and asked what was wrong. Trying to hide the tears and hurt in my voice, I asked him what I did wrong that would cause me getting a tutor.
Puzzled, he responded in a matter-of-fact tone, “People don’t get tutors because they are dumb; they get tutors to get better.”
Dad went on to explain the difference in psychology between my thought and his in how we perceive tutors. Driving home his point, he even reminded me that even Michael Jordan needed a coach! After that, I was hooked. I didn’t just want tutors in my schoolwork, but I listened to anyone I could find to help coach me up in tennis.
After securing my first teaching job, I took every chance to be mentored from veteran teachers. I didn’t see it as a weakness or something that needed to be forced to do. I realized that to be a better leader in the future, a Future Leader, I needed to learn from others today!
While there is no mandate for me to be mentored today, I still look to learn from others constantly. Although someone may have more experience than me or a fancy title, it matters that I surround myself with others who possess the following “6 Attributes of Effective Mentors”:
- Provide Insights From Experience. The leader needs to be reflective and able to humbly articulate how they were successful as well as mistakes made in their journey.
- Help You to Connect. The leader should be able to connect me with resources to address needs as well as introduce me to other people and ways to grow.
- Tell You What You May Not Want to Hear. The leader needs to be honest and straight-forward as well as be direct with areas to avoid or stop doing.
- Push You Beyond What You Think Is Enough. The leader should elevate my awareness to the magic of possibilities as well as drive me beyond the limitations I may put on myself.
- Encourage You Along the Way. The leader needs to keep me moving forward as well as be the cheerleader through inspiration and positivity.
- Celebrate Your Successes! The leader should present along the journey as well as at the major milestones to celebrate accomplishments to reveal our true friendship and partnership.
While there's no perfect mentor, it's important to go in to a mentoring relationship with the same expectations. Be up-front and clear on your needs, so you can find future success.