I was struck with a passing comment that a friend made about the reasons why a mentor agrees to give of his time and talent. We were talking about what the older, adult mentors get out of the relationship with their mentee and he mentioned he had bolstered his son’s confidence by saying “There’s a uniqueness that you have…there is something that you can give back to your mentors in a way that is unique to you.” This observation triggered some deep thoughts within me.
It is true that in any specific relationship there is a uniqueness to it because the individuals themselves are unique. And when you add to that relationship, the large gap in age between the older mentor and the very young person being mentored, there is a dynamic that can be cultivated into a type of gift back to the mentor. The mentor wants to be blessed by being able to give of himself to someone else. The mentor can find that blessing if he is able to find a receiver who is willing to understand what he has to pass on.
“I am looking for friends. What does that mean — tame?”
“It is an act too often neglected,” said the fox. “It means to establish ties.”
“To establish ties?”
“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world….”