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Blog #4: Do I need a Mentor?

Updated: Jul 1



All of us have dreams. Some are small and simple; some are big and in technicolor. So, what are your dreams? How do you make them come true if you have learning disabilities or dyslexia? One of the most effective ways to make that happen is by working with a mentor. But, while mentorship sounds easy, it is often hard to get it going and keep the relationship happening. This podcast has tips and tricks specifically tailored for you, including: finding your spirit guide; learning about different types of mentors and matching them to your dream; how heroes can help you; and getting clues from others about their own mentoring experiences. This podcast lays the groundwork for you--now go find yourself a mentor!


Definition and Benefits


Definition: Oxford Languages defines a mentor as: "an experienced and trusted advisor" (2021). Merriam Webster says that a mentor is a "trusted counselor or guide" (2021). Both definitions cover the often multi-faceted role of mentors in our everyday lives. You can have a mentor at school to help you complete your degree program or a mentor at work to groom you for that special promotion. You may want a mentor to coach you to be a better tennis player or a mentor to teach you how to come out of your shell and find new friends or experiences in a new city. All of these people can be effective mentors for you just when you need them. They will all give you valuable gifts, as discussed below.


Benefits: Look at all of the advantages you can get from a good mentoring relationship: 1. Mentors give you information, deep knowledge, and ideas that you would never get anywhere else. 2. Mentors can give you invaluable feedback and insights specifically about you--they can see things that you could never see on your own. 3. Mentors motivate and stimulate you in personal ways. 4. Mentors are always there to encourage you during the hard times and praise you during the good ones. 5. Mentors can help you set necessary boundaries when you need them--and open other doors when that would make a real difference for you. 6. Mentors are the best "sounding boards" around; you can bounce any idea off of them and they listen and support you. 7. Mentors will always be the advisor you can trust. 8. Mentors are the best connectors you will ever find. 9. Mentors will prevent you from making the same mistakes they did and 10. Mentorship is free--all you pay is your time and faith in your mentor (Rampton, 2016).



Scenarios

  • Patrick loves to do woodworking and wants to start his own business, making one-of-a-kind furniture to sell online. He has saved $2,000 to get started, but doesn't know what to do next. He could really use a mentor who already has business experience to guide him through the hurdles of successful online merchandising.

  • Darrius is so sick of everyone asking him what he wants to do after high school graduation. He hates it because his grades were never that great and he never really liked school anyway. Right now, he is having a wonderful time hanging with his friends and doing his part-time job at Wawa. He could use a mentor to help him set some goals and think about his future, especially in terms of career exploration.

  • Adelita keeps having money problems. After she dropped out of high school, she started working full time as a waitress in an up-scale restaurant. Her tips are great, but she can't seem to hold onto money no matter how much she makes. She really wants a big wedding to her fiancé next year, but she just doesn't know where the money will come from. A mentor would be so helpful to Adelita to learn how to make a budget and monitor her spending habits.

  • Becky is so discouraged because she's trying to cope with her third broken engagement. She keeps meeting these great guys online or with friends, but it always seems to get so serious so fast. She's tired of having her heart broken again. She could really use a mentor to give her support during this hard time, as well as provide insights and guidance as she tries to understand the difficulties in her personal life.


Tips and Tricks to Find a Mentor:

It's one thing to talk about how wonderful it would be to have a mentor--it's another thing to find one to meet your needs. So, how do you start? The activities below will give you lots of ideas to start you in this process.

Tip #1: Who is Your Spirit Guide?



While this may be a new concept for many of you, I think it is a fascinating idea that might be worth further exploration, no matter what your spirituality or religion. Let's start by asking: What is a spirit guide? My simple definition is a person or animal who inspires you and guides you. Other people might add that it is the intuitive voice you sometimes hear inside yourself that prompts you to take the path that's right for you or behave in healthy ways for personal growth. However, no matter how you define it, your spirit guide is someone or something who can change you in positive ways and make you the person you are....

So, if you already have a spirit guide--and just didn't know it--why would you want one? To me, spirit guides are a very special form of mentorship. While regular mentors will always guide you, encourage you, and look out for your best interest, a true spirit guide has two, additional advantages: a) it is already around you or inside you and b) it knows you and loves you better than you may know yourself. Spirit guides are as close to home as you can get--if they're a relative or dear friend who has already passed, they know you inside and out. If they're a parent, spouse, or pet, they have already lived with you every day and truly understand the rhythms and changes in your life. No matter who they are or how they are connected to you, spirit guides can teach you some of the most important lessons you will ever learn about life.

For instance, in this Episode, I talk about my Aunt Judy and how she helped to make me the person I am--strong, independent, compassionate, and someone who loves glittery things! What can a Spirit Guide teach you? Perhaps, you have a grandparent who passed away and showed you what loyalty and love of family really means. Maybe, you have a friend who died from a severe illness who helped you to understand and value strength and courage despite unbelievable odds. Some of the best Spirit Guides can be found in nature or are as close to home as a favorite pet (Gisonni, 2014; Little Grey Box, 2017). For example, cats and dogs can teach us:

  • Love is unconditional.

  • Money isn't really that important, if you get your needs met everyday.

  • In your pet's eyes, you are always perfect.

  • Laughter truly is the best medicine.

  • Play every day.

  • Don't hold grudges.

  • Cuddles will fix every problem you'll ever have.

  • Naps are are critical for a happy life.

  • Personal hygiene goes a long way to make you feel better.

  • Bark or cry loud enough and you'll usually get what you want.

  • You can entertain yourself with anything, if you're creative enough.

  • Always try to live in the moment!

Here's an interesting article to get you thinking more about Spirit Guides:

6 Types Of Spirit Guides & How To Communicate With Them
.pdf
Download PDF • 3.14MB

Tip #2: What has your Sprit Guide taught you?

Write or say a brief thank-you note to your Spirit Guide. You can write this in your Journal, dictate it to your phone, or just say out loud (in a private place, please!) anything you want your Spirit Guide to hear. Here's a sample to get you started:

Dear _______,

I'm so glad that you're with me! I know you've taught me about __________ and _________, but sometimes, I forget to listen to you. I don't always hear what you're saying, but I will never forget that you'll always be available to help me. Thanks for being in my life.


Tip #3: What Kind of Mentor Do You Need?


Typically when you think of a mentor, you think of one person who does it all--listens to you, supports you, and guides you in every situation. But did you know that you may have many, different mentors throughout your life? Just a you grow and change, so your mentoring needs will change as well. Liu (2015) talks about this in a great article listed below. She explains that successful people need others to fulfill different roles for them. These roles fall into four types of mentors (Coach, Connector, Cheerleader, Challenger). Assorted mentors will fit your life at various times, depending on what you specifically need in that situation. Check out this website to see more about the four, different types: https://www.inc.com/betty-liu/the-4-types-of-mentors-you-need-in-your-life-to-succeed.html Then, move on to Trick #2.



Tip #4: Find a Mentor Type that Matches Your Dream

Now that you have an idea about how different mentors can be valuable to you at different times, the next step is to find which type fits you now. The key is to find your dream and make that image real for yourself. To do that, sit and close your eyes in a quiet, peaceful place. Let your mind wander and free associate what would makes you the happiest. Take your time and really imagine yourself there and ask yourself these questions:

  • What does it look like?

  • Where is it?

  • How does it smell? taste? or feel?

  • What specifically do you look like?

  • What are you doing? Why?

When you've really captured your dream, open your eyes and write down exactly what you saw. (You can do this in your journal or dictate it into your phone, etc.)

*Note: If this activity doesn't work for you to define your dream, try any of the techniques from Babauta (2018)--see References.


After you've defined your dream, the next step is to match to one of the four mentor types. For example, you may want to run a marathon or be a triathlete; a Coach could give you the motivation you need. Maybe, you want to change jobs or find a new career. Then you need a Connector; someone who show you how to network and give you the valuable, personal connections you need to navigate the politics of your workplace and grow in your field. Perhaps, you want to save money to buy your own home or rent a vacation home on the beach. You will definitely need a Cheerleader to get you through the rough times when it seems like you'll never be able to move into that house. It may be that you need to lose 20 pounds and follow your doctor's regimen for your diabetes. Since health issues can be frustrating and tricky, you could use a Challenger to keep you honest when you want to eat one more donut or keep forgetting to check your blood sugar levels.



Tip #5: Do you need a hero?


There are lots of ways that you can start actually looking for your mentor--just see all the advice given in the Resources and References below! However, here's three things to give you even more clues before you start: a) Define your dream; b) Pick out your mentor type; and c) Look for your hero.

If you've already completed Tricks #1 and #2 above, you're half-way here. Another idea is to build on a Trick from Podcast #3: Who Is My Hero? Just like you may want more than one type of mentor in your life, you may also have more than one person that you admire. For instance in Podcast #3, I shared that my hero is Eleanor Rooseveldt. However, I also really respect CoCo Chanel. In this Episode, I talk about how I love Chanel's sense of line and color; attributes that led me to a brand-new mentor who taught me how to make Mardi Gras costumes. I can use both heroes--but for different things in my life.

You can do the same thing. You can use your Hero from Podcast #3 or look for a second, real life "hero" who has some of the qualities that you need right now. Here's some examples: Maybe, you love gymnastics and really admire Simone Biles. Why not find a find a local gymnastics coach or school to give you guidance and help you figure out how to do that for a hobby? Perhaps, your dream is to be a chef with your own restaurant. Try taking culinary classes and look around for someone who is successful at starting their own restaurant. You can also talk to a visiting chef to get advice and potential mentorship. It could be that you feel strongly about climate change and are a fan of Rachel Carson (*Note: If you don't know her--google her--She's incredibly cool!). Follow her example and investigate a community or online organization that asks for volunteers. A good website to start is:https://www.pointsoflight.org/blog/6-ways-volunteer-environment/ A new mentor may be waiting for you right there.....

Tip #6: What Do Others Say About Mentoring?



Still another way to find those clues that will lead you to the perfect mentor can be found right under your nose. It's time to interview the people around you and find out if they've used mentorship to enrich their lives. You can ask them these questions to get started:

  • Have you ever had a mentor? (If not, why not?)

  • Who was that person?

  • Where did you meet them?

  • What did they do?

  • What did they do for you?

  • Why did you want a mentor?

  • What did you get out of the relationship?

Be aware that the person you interview may--or may not--know anything about mentors. If not, you may want to give them a brief definition or some of the ideas from this website to begin the conversation. You can also close the conversation by asking them for suggestions or advice about finding a mentor. Or, you may have a ready-made mentor right in front of you!




NOW THAT YOU HAVE ALL OF THESE IDEAS TO THINK ABOUT--GO FIND YOUR OWN MENTOR! Or, if you still need more ideas and encouragement, try this article for still more tips and tricks:


How to Find a Mentor _ RamseySolutions.com
.pdf
Download PDF • 1.92MB

 

Resources:

Here's some great materials about mentoring:

  • In my experience, one of the greatest programs around for young adults with invisible disabilities is the mentoring program Eye-To-Eye. It's an amazing organization that provides one-to-one mentors for middle school students across the United States with LD or dyslexia. If you're looking for a great volunteer activity or a way connecting with local folks about mentoring, this is the place to start. For more information, check out their website: https://eyetoeyenational.org/our-mission

  • ADD INTERNSHIP ARTICLES!!!!

  • Lots--and I mean lots!--of good mentoring materials online are written for mentors in the workplace. While this material is usually geared specifically to someone who already has a job, it can still be good stuff worth exploring. For instance, try this website as an example: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kerryhannon/2011/10/31/how-to-find-a-mentor/?sh=4e3d848c6d01 . You may be surprised how much can apply to your own life.

 


References:

 

TRANSITION CONNECTION

Here's a few additional activities to implement any IEP/ITP goals about mentoring:


  • Design Your Perfect Mentor


Build-an-Ideal-Mentor-for-mentees
.pdf
Download PDF • 212KB

  • Fill out the worksheet (see Tip #2 above)

Mentoring Types worksheet copy
.docx
Download DOCX • 103KB

  • Find 3 locations in Philly where you could find a mentor.....



 



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