When the seeker is ready the Mentor will appear. –Thanks to Lao Tsu

In 1962 – eight years before he published his essay The Servant as Leader – Greenleaf wrote ‘Uniqueness, Paradox and Choice.’  Beginning today, Gentle Reader, I will quote from his essay and invite you to reflect upon his words and I will offer some of what emerged for me as I reflected (and continue to reflect) upon his words.

Greenleaf writes: In my early business experience I had a mentor who believed that every man has the seeds of greatness in him, that the inward experience is man’s most dependable guide…’ 

Consider, Gentle Reader, that there are significant differences between ‘Mentor,’ ‘Coach,’ ‘Guide,’ ‘Teacher’ and ‘Role-Model’ (there are other roles but these will suffice for now).  Now one person might engage two or more of these roles – I had a number of Mentors that did so.  I will focus on ‘Mentor’: A ‘Mentor’ invites, challenges and ‘calls-forth.’  A ‘Mentor’ invites one to ‘go inside’ and discern (become ‘aware of’ and ‘acknowledge’), and then to consciously choose what to nurture, what to sustain, what to develop and what to ‘let go of’ (this ‘letting go’ is one of the most challenging things for us to do). 

What are we to discern?  Consider the following (again this list is not exhaustive): Who I am. Who I am choosing to become.  Why I am choosing ‘this becoming.’  What are my core values, core guiding life-principles, core deep tacit assumptions, core stereotypes, core prejudices (‘core’ means that to the best of my ability I will never compromise it)?  What is my ‘Purpose’ (Why do I exist?)?  What is my ‘Vision’ (‘Big Dream’)?  What is my ‘Call’ (Call = using my gifts and talents to serve the high priority needs that exist in my/the world)? What are my gifts, talents and abilities – AND – What are the dormant gifts, talents and abilities ‘seeds’ that I am called to nurture into life and then live into/out of)?  What is my ‘Mission’ (Mission = what I am called to do every day that helps me live into/out of my ‘Purpose’ and ‘Vision’)?  What are my favorite ways of nurturing and depleting my Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, and Spiritual/Spirit Dimensions?  When and Why do I choose to deplete one or more of these rather than nurture them? 

The ‘Mentor’ helps us think about and engage these challenging questions via inquiry.  The ‘Mentor’ believes that the person, given time to reflect and observe and engage in searching conversations with the Mentor, will be able to discern and frame a response that is helpful to the person searching and seeking.  Some of the Mentor’s challenging questions might include: Why did you choose that?  Does the way you______get you what you want?  What do you want? (The person responds to the ‘What do you want’ question first.)  What motivates you to choose nurturing each of the P.I.E.S. Dimensions?  What motivates you to choose to deplete them?  What motivates you to listen with undefended receptivity in order to understand?  What motivates you to refuse to listen with undefended receptivity?  What are the virtues you have embraced and integrated?  What are the vices you have embraced and integrated?  What emerges for you when you reflect upon Greenleaf’s two statements: ‘Each of us is a living paradox of good and evil.’  ‘To refuse to examine the assumptions one lives by is immoral.’

Well, Gentle Reader, those questions should hold us until next time. 

We become what we habitually think and do. –Aristotle

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