Weekly Thought – March 16, 2021
Fred’s book Breakfast With Fred had a tag line: “Mentor to a generation of leaders.” His long life enabled that influence to cross several generations. He saw a clear distinction between coaching, discipling, and mentoring. He believed strongly in the mutual responsibilities.
During this season we have received numerous emails expressing appreciation for the weekly thoughts and the applicability. We often think about the timeless and timely nature of his wisdom. We are also thankful for the ability to stretch and bless through the gifts God gave Fred. Thank you for your faithful support and encouragement.
The Art of Being Mentored
Great teachers want to find great students. I always tried to be a good student when mentored. I knew I had responsibilities to them. Here are a few I identified:
1) Admit my ignorance. I never tried to impress a mentor with my knowledge. I always exposed my ignorance. To hide ignorance from a teacher is as foolish as hiding an illness from a doctor. The wise person is always aware of his own ignorance. Dr. Walter Hearn, a Yale biochemist once said, “Fred every night when you go to bed you ought to be more ignorant than you were when you woke up.” I thought he was being facetious until he explained that if I considered my knowledge as a balloon and assumed the balloon increased each day, it would touch more and more ignorance on the periphery. Therefore, my knowledge brought me into contact with my greater ignorance. The arrogant are proud of their knowledge the humble are acquainted with their ignorance. I made friends with my ignorance.
2) Work to ask the right questions. Right questions come from thought, analysis, and discernment. Idle or careless questions are demeaning to the mentor. There’s power in a good question. Years of experience have taught me that one of the keys is asking a question that the person wants to answer.
3) Do your homework. With my two mentors, I never called them unless I had written down what I wanted to talk to them about. Writing out your questions beforehand is helpful to minimize chitchat. When my primary mentor and I met I had preciously organized my questions. I knew it was not a social situation. If we later wanted social time, that would be up to him, not to me. I never walked into his office and sat down until I was invited. He had to know I was not there to waste time. Preparation shows respect and readiness to make progress.
4) Never try to “use” the mentor. A person with a well-known mentor can be tempted to drop the name, or make reference in ways that are really using, not respecting. Quoting the mentor out of context is an example. A mentor is for progress, not ego satisfaction.
A good student grows. Progress is the pay the student gives the mentor. The mentor greatly enjoys “being there” when achievement occurs. Currently I spend most of my time mentoring high achievers. I never charge. I get amply paid by seeing them grow and accomplish.
This week think about 1) Who has influenced me most greatly? 2) How am I preparing myself to be mentored? 3) What questions do I have this week for my mentor?
Words of Wisdom: “Preparation shows respect and readiness to make progress.”
Wisdom from the Word “He stores up effective counsel for the upright, and is like a shield for those who live with integrity.” (Proverbs 2:7 NET Bible)