The Value of Mentoring

by

Paulina G. (Polly) Perez

 

             It is part of our responsibility to help others with disabilities. I had always sought out mentors as I worked as a nurse and I realized that now it was my turn to be a mentor for others like me that are disabled. All of us can be mentors.

 

What does it mean to be a mentor?

            Learning does not end when we complete rehab; it is a continuous process. If you look up the word mentor in the dictionary it gives the definition of a mentor as a wise and trusted teacher. Being a mentor means regularly sharing your knowledge with someone. Being a mentor is an intentional, insightful, nurturing process. Being a mentor means being a role model. Being a mentor means nurturing someone. Being a mentor means caring for someone. Being a mentor means helping someone navigate within the health care system.

 

Why is mentoring important?

            Mentoring is important, as it is one of the best ways to learn. Learning from a seasoned stroke survivor can help one understand the context in which we now live our life. Mentoring helps new stoke survivors to understand the intricacies and politics of the health care system. Mentoring nurtures relationships that are often lacking in today’s health care environment. A mentor is a person-oriented individual. Mentoring is a way of changing the social setting in which the disabled person lives. It is literally reweaving the social fabric and reconnecting people, culture and classes.

 

What are the responsibilities of a mentor?

            The mentor has many responsibilities. Among them are befriending, teaching, sponsoring, encouraging, and counseling. A mentor needs to have good ole common sense and be able to act a role model for values.

            Part of the mentor’s responsibility is to maintain regular contact with her protégé as this models dependability and helps develop trust. Trust can be developed only if the mentor and protégé are honest with each other; this builds a foundation on which the relationship can develop. A mentor is not expected to have all the answers; she or he is a sounding board and support. A mentor helps her protégés access resources so that she increases her knowledge. A mentor must have both imagination and breadth of knowledge so that she can support another in the close relationship.

            Mentoring is not something you do to someone; it arises out of an effective relationship. Mentoring takes time to develop, as does any relationship. It will only happen when the protégé feels accepted and safe, views the mentor as a role model and then trusts her. The mentor does not do things for the protégé that they can do for themselves. The mentor assists another person in discovering her own solutions to problems. Mentoring is non-linear and interactive. Mentoring does not bring dramatic, radical change but the more important change that develops slowly.

 

            The mentor should possess the following qualities and characteristics.

 

Honesty

Integrity

Trustworthiness

Responsible

Approachable

Non-judgmental

Process-oriented

A “people” person

Commitment to regular communication

Task-oriented

Goal-oriented

Positive-minded

Willingness to spend time with others

A Competent practitioner

Understanding development versus training

A good communicator

Ability to be an active listener

Ability to notice patterns

An empathetic listener

Secure in yourself

Awareness of resources within her field of expertise

Willingness to share personal experiences relevant to her protégé

Willingness to step back and allow others to develop

Willingness to allow others to gain expertise

Understanding of the issues faced by a disabled person.

 

                                    WHAT LIES BEHIND US AND WHAT LIES BEFORE US ARE SMALL MATTERS COMPARED TO WHAT LIES WITHIN US.

                                                                                                RALPH WALDO EMERSON

 

 

Qualities of a Protege

 

Willingness to assume responsibility

Ability to accept constructive criticism

Talent

Honesty

Integrity

Honorable

Positive-minded

Goal-oriented

A good listener

Self-motivated

Ability to learn from your mistakes

Seeks greater responsibility

Self-aware

Conscientious

Receptive to feedback

Seeks increased knowledge

Willingness to learn from another’s experience

 

THERE'S ONLY ONE CORNER OF THE UNIVERSE YOU CAN BE CERTAIN OF IMPROVING AND THAT'S YOUR OWN SELF.

                                                                                                            ALDOUS HUXLEY

 

Benefits of Being a Mentor

 

Enrichment

Rejuvenation

Challenge

Self-development

Help create employment

Insight

Being part of the “critical mass” that will effect change

Being able to lend support in a creative process

Sharing in another’s growth

The opportunity to improve communication among health care providers

The opportunity to positively influence the next generation

 

Benefits of Having a Mentor

 

Motivation

Knowledge

Chance to work with a professional for a time

Trusted advice and counsel

Being challenged in a “safe” environment

Practical know-how

Guidance

Sponsorship

Support

Development in a non-threatening environment

Empowerment

Encouragement

Reassurance

Eliminates a sense of isolation

Being consciously aware of what you do and how you do it

 

            Determine your own needs before deciding to be a mentor and be sure that the goals of mentoring fit well in your life. Mentoring can be done in person, via phone and the Internet. The mentor imparts expertise and know-how to her protégé. When acting as a mentor it is important to set ground rules and boundaries and communicate them to your protégé clearly. A mentor sets a goal, decides what types of help might be appropriate for her protégé, and carries out a plan to reach that goal when helping guide another person.

            Mentors pass down information from generation to generation.

 

A Challenge for All of Us

 

            Don’t be afraid to reach out if you need a mentor. Conversely, don’t be afraid to reach out to help other stroke survivors.

 

                                                ONLY AS HIGH AS I REACH CAN I GROW

                                                ONLY AS FAR AS I SEEK CAN I GO

                                                ONLY AS DEEP AS I LOOK CAN I SEE

                                                ONLY AS MUCH AS I DREAM CAN I BE

                                                                                                            KAREN RAVN

 

 

Bibliography

 

Armstrong, F. Organization Career Development Programs and Practices, Australian Journal of Career Development, 1992, 1(1).

 

Biehl, Bobb. Mentoring: Confidence in Find and Mentor and Becoming One. Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1996.

 

Bridges, W. Managing Transitions, Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, 199

 

Collins, EGD and Scott, P. Everyone Who Makes It Has a Mentor Harvard Business Review, July-August, 1978.

 

Frey, B. And Nollar, R. Mentoring: A Promise for the Future. Journal of Creative Behavior, 1986, 20(1).

 

Kram, KL. Phases in the mentor relationship, Academy of Management Journal, 1983, 26:608.

 

Rawlins, M. And Rawlins, L. Mentoring and Networking for Helping Professionals, Personnel and Guidance Journal, 1983:62(2).

Shea, GF. Mentoring: A Guide to the Basics, Kogan Page, London, 1992.

 

Zwy, MG. A mentor for all reasons, Personnel Journal, 67(1).

 

Copyright © March 2002

The Stroke Network, Inc.

P.O. Box 492 Abingdon, Maryland 21009

All rights reserved