Hear it From our Mentors
This month we asked a veteran Menttium mentor, Artie, to share his take on our mentoring programs. It’s been our outstanding pleasure to work with Artie over these past 20 years, as it is to work with all of our seasoned mentors in our Menttium network. Here’s to 20 more!
Mentors Make a Difference
I am lucky. I grew up with a wide range of mentors and role models who significantly impacted my life, and it is my pleasure to be a 20-year mentor for Menttium, continuing to pay these life lessons forward.
As the youngest of three sons in our family, I benefited from older brother mentors, in addition to my parents, and teachers. My mother was an elementary school teacher, and my father was a natural teacher: patient, wise, and caring. What was their common denominator as a coach, role model, and mentor? It was their sincere interest to help me to reach my full potential. I believe that is key for any mentor; wanting to help others. My parents, brothers, and teachers helped guide me to a career and life that would be fulfilling, challenging and fun.
In my career, I was lucky to also have good bosses and friends at work that continued to offer their experience and perspective to help me find a way forward without having to waste too much time stumbling through all the possible errors for myself. Mentors streamline the learning curve. They helped me through my 40-year career, managing chemical plants across the USA and businesses around the world. My career and life were enhanced, thanks to their contributions towards my growth and development.
20 Years and Counting
Two decades ago I was asked if I wanted to be a mentor for Menttium. At the time, it was an easy decision. I eagerly said, “Yes!” I have loved to coach and mentor through my lifetime.
As a youngster, I was a competitive gymnast in high school and in college, serving as the captain of each of those gymnastic teams. I even was an assistant gymnastics coach for a local high school team. Gymnastics is a sport that fosters mentoring. In addition to the formal coaching of the team, each gymnast works with team members to develop new skills, with the more senior gymnasts helping those who have less experience. We “spot” each other, standing by to help catch the other gymnast in case of an error that could easily cause injury. We step in just at the right moment to protect them. Isn’t this what mentoring is all about?
Gymnasts help each other to grow and learn, to overcome fear, to push the boundaries of comfort and to try activities that potentially could be dangerous and cause injury if done incorrectly. There is great satisfaction when you can help another person discover new skills and confidence. George Addair has said, “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” We all need that helping hand to push through our fear and try new things. Gymnasts do this all the time with their teammates, and mentors do the same.
So when asked if I’d mentor formally through Menttium’s excellent cross-company mentoring program, I jumped at the opportunity. I’m so glad that I did. That opportunity was in Dallas, Texas, where I was working at the time in our corporate headquarters, and my mentee lived in the same city. We met face-to-face and developed a great relationship that has lasted all these years. We are still in touch with each other.
All my subsequent mentees in the mentoring program have been virtual. I moved from the corporate office to an international assignment in South America and thus continued with Menttium by remote control, using Skype and telephones as the mechanisms for monthly conversations and coaching, helping mentees to reach their mentoring goals. In retirement, I continue to mentor by computer. However, I’ve met some of the mentees face to face with visits, further strengthening the bonds that have developed through the mentoring process.
Great to See Success
Perhaps the most satisfying feeling with being a mentor is to see the mentee grow during the year. On more than one occasion during our year-long process, I’ve had the pleasure to see the mentee receive a well-deserved promotion, with new responsibility based on his or her newly developed and demonstrated skills.
In fact, perhaps the most rewarding experience is to have a former mentee reach out to me years later to seek guidance. I remember one mentee who was in Mexico and was being considered for a larger responsibility and she wanted to get my input about whether or not to pursue this new career direction. I was honored to be considered as a relevant reference for input and guidance.
Thus, the Menttium process has provided me with decades of opportunities to help others. As in my gymnastics days, I feel that I can offer a helping hand when needed. Not so much to push the other person in an unwelcome direction, but rather to have them grow, based on their own initiative, with just enough of a safety net to get through their fear and try something new. I always feel my role is to coach them to success.
Being a Menttium mentor has given me great joy and satisfaction, and has given my mentees a helpful boost for their own success.