16 of the best Mentoring quotes

16 of the best Mentoring quotes

“If you really want to give your children [mentees] a few worthwhile gifts in this life, leave them with a sense of curiosity, good manners and a considerate nature. You will have made a bequest of inestimable value.” (Clive Simpkins)

If you were asked to describe in 100 or so words the mentor who has most impacted your life to date and why you have chosen that person, what would you write?

While going through my mentoring resources, I highlighted 16 possible responses to that question.The quotes come from a variety of resources and further details for the majority of them can be found in the extensive Bibliography on my website. I have given a short heading to each quote to further reinforce important aspects of mentoring:

The Mentor’s Spirit

We seem to need mentors – wise and faithful guides, advisers or teachers – the wisdom keepers of an entire family, a sprawling corporation or a community. Much more, we need the mentor’s spirit, an unseen affirming influence and positive energy. The mentor’s spirit is the heart’s posture pervading healthy relationships in every family, classroom, organization and town … When the mentor’s spirit is absent, we find dependency, an erosion of optimism and impaired problem solving.” (Marsha Sinetar)

This is Mentoring

“Mentoring is a lifelong relationship, in which a mentor helps a protégé reach her or his God-given potential. Mentoring is like having an ideal aunt or uncle whom you respect deeply, who loves you at a family level, cares for you at a close friend level, supports you at a sacrificial level, and offers wisdom at a modern Solomon level. Having a mentor is not like having another mother or father. Mentoring is more “how can I help you?” than “What should I teach you?” (Bob Biehl)

The Mentoring role

“Although the specific roles of mentors vary quit a bit, every good mentor must do two things: make a connection – meaning to gain the trust of the youth and foster mutual respect – and using that connection to let the youth know by word and deed that he or she is worth the mentor’s time and effort because that youth is a valuable human being. And that the mentor can offer the youth – through knowledge and experience or by example – ways to expand his or her horizons and to increase the likelihood that he or she will achieve success.” (US Department of Education (1998))

A non parent role model

“Mentors can provide a safe haven for teens to air sensitive issues (about self and in their understanding of others eg, parents, teachers, siblings and peers) while still transmitting adult values, advice and perspectives … By providing their point of view in a supportive, trusting context, mentors can help adolescents successfully balance autonomy with closeness in their interactions with their parents. And unlike parental advice, which adolescents are often quick to dismiss, guidance and encouragement from a nonparent adult is sometimes taken more to heart.” (Jean E. Rhodes)

NOT a rescue operation

“A mentor is not a social worker or a savior.  A mentor is a guide … Therefore, you will have to find the fortitude to resist the urge to solve your mentee’s problems or to “rescue” them from the circumstances of their lives. That is hard to do when you become emotionally invested in the life of a child. Yet, to fulfil your proper role as a mentor, you will have to summon the courage to remain an empathetic guide as your mentee deals with problems, makes choices, commits errors, and develops the inner resources necessary to rise above circumstances and turn challenges into opportunities.” (Thomas W. Dortch Jr.)

Sharing values

“Mentors must share not only what their values are, but explain why they are important, and describe how these values affect their lives. This allows the student to know and understand the mentor …. By sharing, the mentor provides the student with the chance to see a situation from a fresh and different perspective, perhaps for the first time. If this sharing is accomplished without imposing values upon the youth, it can have a positive and lasting effect upon the youth and the relationship.” (Be a Mentor Program)

Worthy listening

“Just listening can be a far greater gift than the listener realizes, whatever the age of the person being listened to. Listening to another person is a way of giving him or her worth, of valuing them. It is not second best to speaking. It is a gift in its own right and something we can all do. When I listen to someone carefully, I give space to allow them to express themselves. This can be a great gift in today’s busy life when everyone is in a hurry.” (Anne Long)

An experiential journey

“I tell you, I think we all learned so much from this whole experience. With kids, you have to be so mindful, whether you are raising them, mentoring them, caring for them or teaching them. You’ve got to check that ego at the door and listen, listen very carefully.” (unknown mentor)


“Mentors are encouragers. They demonstrate the mentor’s spirit … You might say that their attributes, indeed their lives, bear witness to transcendant realities. For instance, they are virtuous – good stewards of their own and the greater good. They are trusting and trustworthy – faithful to a constant set of superordinate values. They are people lovers, and unabashed lovers of life. They are empathetic and nonjudgmental – we feel that our mentors accept us unconditionally. They are also authentic. Relying on an internal compass, they figure out how to be themselves despite obstacles or shifting circumstances.” (Marsha Sineter)

The wise guide

“Young people need someone to sit down with them and point out the options and the opportunities. They have to learn to be flexible and open to change and to be prepared. A mentor helps you to find and define your center, to set goals, and to articulate what you want to be in life.” (Dr Thomas Minter)

Connect with the mentee

“Mentors can influence their mentees in three important ways:

  • by enhancing social skills and emotional well-being
  • by improving cognitive skills through dialogue and listening
  • by serving as a role model and advocate

… but … none of the above can occur until the mentors and mentee establish an emotional bond.” ([adapted] Jean E. Rhodes)


“Fundamentally, a mentor connects a mentee to resources: his or her own personal network …. libraries, helpful videos, audio tapes [DVDs, YouTube clips] and books, even support groups. The mentor is never required to have all the answers or all the resources. They are simply a connector to many resources that the mentee needs during the growth process.  As a mentor, your attitude should be: “I’m here to help you, and I’ll do what I can.” (Bob Biehl)

Create a legacy – pass the baton

“When you see young kids feeling good about themselves and becoming more self-reliant, you know you’re onto something. They see that you can have dreams and can aspire to achieve them. They learn that there are people who care and are willing to work to help them reach their dreams … We help young people get through the “glass walls” in this country – the barriers between racial, religious and cultural groups. We need to break down these walls and show that there are more similarities than differences. Mentoring is a real-life example of people coming together for the common good … Your impact has to go beyond immediate family and friends. As a mentor, you get to pass the baton, to shape and influence another human being. It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that.” (Harry L. Coaxum)


“Being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. And a time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own history. And a time to pick up the pieces when it’s all over.” (Gloria Naylor)

Goal Setting

“Knowing how to set realistic, attainable goals is a skill, but it is also a state of mind. You have to have enough confidence in yourself to know that you can reach the goal you set in order to take the risk of trying for it. And every accomplished objective, in turn, increases your faith in yourself and makes it easier to reach for the bigger prizes. It is important to keep this in mind as you go about encouraging your mentee to set goals. Find out what the young person dreams about, and then discuss how you can break down the dream into several smaller objectives that build on each other … The process of working toward a major goal will help him or her to develop an essential life skill and a few successes will help boost his or her confidence as he or she makes plans and prepares for the future.” (Thomas W. Dortsch Jr)

A successful Mentor

“To be a successful leader [mentor] of people requires only two things: an astute knowledge of what makes people tick; a spirit that spreads excitement and energy to other people.” (Alan McGinnis)

Ready to add your thoughts?  Mine can be found in these two books, Letter 2 a Teen and The Spirit of Mentoring – A manual for adult volunteers:

About the author: Robin Cox has been a School Principal, sports coach to National Under 19 Level, Youth Symposium Organiser, developer of Youth Mentoring Programs in New Zealand and Australia, Churchill Fellow and author of books linked to youth mentoring, Peer Mentoring and the development of adolescents to become the best they can be. He has trained over 1,000 volunteer adult mentors, run workshops for teachers promoting the Spirit of Mentoring and personally mentored over 1,000 adolescents. Still an idealist, a cancer survivor of 50+ years, married with two adult children, Robin lives in Australia and shares a passion with anyone wanting to make a positive difference in the global community. You can see his short daily mentoring tips on Twitter @million2016coxy or on Facebook or on Instagram or contact him through his YES! website