The way we treat a thing can sometimes change its nature. –Lewis Hyde

Greenleaf writes: I had a mentor who believed that every man has the seeds of greatness in him. After reading this I stopped, stepped aside and reflected upon ‘Mentor.’

Consider the following: A Mentor is one who sees our potential and calls forth our potential and a Mentor is one who sees us as we are and challenges us to embrace the better angels of our nature.  At times a Mentor is a ‘Teacher’ for he/she has knowledge that is crucial for us to know and so the Mentor offers us this knowledge.  At times a Mentor is an ‘Educator’ and ‘calls forth’ the wisdom and the ‘potentials’ that resides within us.  At times a Mentor is a ‘Guide’ and ‘shows us a way’ and/or walks with us and ‘guides us via inquiry.’  At times a Mentor joins us as a ‘searcher-seeker’ – we are companions on the journey.  At times a Mentor is an inquisitor and challenges us: Why are you choosing this becoming?  Is what you are choosing to do getting you what you want?  What do you want?  Where are you going and why are you going there?

I encountered my first mentor when I was 11 years old.  I was in elementary school.  I was walking to my classroom.  Walking toward me was ‘Coach’ Kelly.  He walked a bit hunched over and walked with a bit of a shuffle combined with a bit of a waddle.  His eyes were glued on me; I can still see his penetrating gaze as I type these words.  He walked directly toward me.  I stopped.  He stopped.

‘I’ve been watching you, Smith.  You need to come out for the basketball team.’  I walked with a limp – a birth-defect in my left hip.  The ‘Coach’ did not hesitate.  ‘You can do this; you can run well enough.  See you at practice tomorrow.’  I showed up.  Coach Kelly called forth gifts in me that I did not know I possessed.  He was a support and Mentor to me for six years.  He kept ‘seeing’ and ‘challenging’ and ‘calling forth.’

Including Coach Kelly I have been blessed with nine Mentors in my life.  Four, including Coach Kelly, ‘announced themselves’ as Mentors.  The other five – the last four – emerged in response to an intention I held.  I had learned that if I discerned the need for a Mentor and if I held a conscious intention then a Mentor would show up.  One challenge, of course, was to be able to identify the Mentor when the Mentor appeared.  Of the five, three ‘announced’ themselves with the same words: ‘I am not sure why, but I believe I am meant to be in your life – let us meet and talk about it.’   Each of the five presented themselves at just the right time – this in itself is mind-blowing and spirit-blowing.

I remember well my last Mentor.  R.T. (he told me that in the South, R.T. is a real name).  I had been invited to sit in on a meeting.  As is my pattern, I showed up early.  I had been holding for some months an intention for a Mentor to show up.  I had just settled in the conference room when this older fellow showed up (I was 48 years old at the time).  He sat down across from me.  I greeted him and returned to reading as he settled in.  After he was settled in he looked at me.  He then said: ‘Excuse me for interrupting.  I have a feeling that I am supposed to be in your life – but I have no idea why.  Will you be willing to meet with me and talk with me about my feeling?’  I knew, at that moment, that R.T. was going to become my Mentor.  He did.  He was my Mentor for more than four years.  He was my last Mentor – perhaps not ‘the’ last Mentor though.

Gentle Reader: Who have been your Mentors?  What did each one ‘See’ and ‘Call Forth’ and in what ways did each ‘Challenge’ you?  When did you say, ‘Thank You’? – Or have you yet to say ‘Thank You’?

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does! –William James


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