Archive for mentor

Years of Bonding Conversations

Father and Son Taking a Break Together

Driving your child to and from locations is an opportunity to talk on regular basis with your child away from the hubbub of family life at home. This tip is given to me by another homeschooling Dad, Will G., as an additional benefit of engaging in the to-and-fro of mini-talent mentoring relationships with people outside of your household. Your child is going to be relaxed and will enjoy your transportation company as a way to converse with you about all sorts of topics at his own rhythm and pace.

If you start early, at age 12 for example, you will have  several solid years of pleasant, edifying, and bonding conversations before he reaches the age of 18. Instead of growing apart, you will be growing closer together in the teenage years.

(updated on 2015)

Mentors and Parents

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Finding a mentor who is both good at his craft and good at being able to share with a younger person can be a difficult match (photo credit: Wikipedia)


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Quote by Geoffrey Colvin in chapter 5 of his book “Talent is Overrated: What really separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else“:

“in sports generally, seeing the results of practice is no problem…Difficulties arise when the results require interpretation. You may believe you played that bar of the Brahms Violin Concerto perfectly, but can you really trust your own judgment? Or you may think that your rehearsal of a job interview was flawless, but your opinion isn’t what counts. These are situations in which a teacher, coach, or mentor is vital for providing crucial feedback”.

Geoffrey Colvin explains that mentors often play a big role in many of the very talented people. I agree. But actually finding a mentor for your minor child can be a difficult task for you as a parent to accomplish in getting your child to grow in his 10,000 hours of talent. Thankfully not every field of talent needs a traditional mentor, at least not at every point in the process on the path to becoming super-talented. Nonetheless, if you can enlist the help of some type of a mentor for your child, it makes the journey a lot easier.

Here are the two common difficulties when trying to find a suitable mentor or coach for your child:

  • Difficulty #1: finding an expert who has experiences that could actually benefit your child, but who is not willing or capable of sharing with a younger person
  • Difficulty #2: finding an expert who is actually willing to share and has great experiences in the particular talent field, but whose personal life is so out of control that it could inadvertently harm your child

The workaround to difficulty number one can often be found by going online to specialized forums where experts give advice to each other about their talent. They are often willing to dispense kind tips to beginners who are showing themselves serious.

The workaround to difficulty number two can often be found by breaking down the skills into still further sub-skills and then to go find new and different mentors that match up to those sub-skills.

The younger the child, the more you may want to consider the strategy of enlisting the help of multiple mini-coaches or mini-mentors. The older the child, the more your child will be able to sell himself to a skeptical mentor by the evidence of the work he would have already accumulated. The older the child, the more he will also be able to separate a person’s great expertise in one area from any of the mentor’s personal ethical problems that are outside his craft.

Whatever the relationship with mentors, always stay in charge. Do not let yourself be substituted as the parent when giving the ethical direction to your child’s life. A beloved coach or mentor should be respected for the value he adds to your child’s life, but the mentor should not be expected to carry the burden and responsibility of being a substitute parent.

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Before Your Child Chooses a Career…Be Sure He Know This One Thing

Crew members of HMS Royalist

It is good idea for your child to see the day-to-day lifestyle of his career of interest. You may discover early-on it is not a good fit. Photo credit: Powerhouse Museum Collection)


Guest Post by Levi Heiple:

Give your child the opportunity to learn about the lifestyle of his career of interest.

When I went to college, I thought I wanted to be a music composer. Had I known what the lifestyle of a successful composer was really like, I probably wouldn’t have done it.

Few classical composers get to actually write what they want–at least not for pay. You are always on a deadline. You have to make revisions on a moment’s notice. Sometimes you have to produce a score within a day! No one is looking for the next Beethoven symphony.

The days of patronized composers are gone. No one will pay you to write your next masterpiece.  You’re paid based on how quickly and efficiently you can deliver quality work that others have already created.

A few people would enjoy this type of intense work life. I would not. I had too many other things I was interested in. I would not have the focus to attain any level of success as a professional composer.

Just because your child enjoys doing something,  it does not necessarily mean that he would enjoy it as a profession. Just because he’s good at something doesn’t mean he can be successful at it. He has to find out what the real-life work is like.

Investing in a brief apprenticeship opportunity for your child will be money well-spent–even if afterwards he realizes he doesn’t want anything to do with the profession.

About Levi Heiple

Levi Heiple is a writer/entrepreneur who specializes in electronic training and support systems. He connected with Jonathan Harris after being asked tutor his son, Caleb. You can sign up for Levi’s free weekly tip on “reading for innovation” at You can find his professional website at  You can find his web design service at

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Tips to Finding a Mentor for your Child

expert mentors.jpg

My friend Will G. is an experienced homeschooling Dad who has helped his teenage son line up several talent mentor relationships over the years. Fathers will do really well at this kind of task list, so I recommend you pass this on to the dad to push the opportunities to the next level. Note that step number 6 is what keeps the mentors coming back to the table to help your 14 year old son on his quest to becoming the best.

This is how you get started finding experts for your son’s field of interest by using these tips from Will:

  1. Screen potential mentors by looking at your circle of friends of acquaintances to see if they have both the  expertise AND integrity to be a positive role model
  2. Approach the expert in his field to see if he will let your son just stand by and observe work on a very specific, one-time task, without asking about any kind of mentoring possibility.
  3. As a father, watch to see if there is a positive dynamic between that expert and your son
  4. Approach the chosen expert and ask if your son could follow him for a part of day on a regular occasions – if the experts say “yes”, you will have your first official mini talent “mentor” (you can have more than one)
  5. Encourage your child to help the expert by doing specific tasks while he is tagging along.
  6. Have your child get VERY good at a specific, narrow, sub-task so that he is establishing a little reputation of his own as being dependable, bright, and a joy to be around. This will pave the way to more extended mentor opportunities.
  7. Rinse and repeat this process with other experts, building your child’s expertise as he goes up the pyramid of responsibility and ability.

To also help convince potential mentors, you want a blog portfolio of what your young person has already done in that same field of interest. Don’t have a blog yet? No problem, your son can jumpstart to a full blown blog within a month’s time by following the “Blog to Your Talent” e-course.


Updated: May 2014

Cultivate the Uniqueness of Mentor-Mentee

Le petit prince

Le petit prince (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

― Antoine de Saint-ExupéryThe Little Prince

“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….”

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