8 Key mentoring qualities for 2021 to create meaningful relationships
How are you approaching 2021? What lessons can you take from 2020 to build a positive pathway through 2021? Or, are you feeling so overwhelmed you have no idea how to start planning for 2021?
Most of us probably know at least one person who died from the Covid virus or has picked it up somewhere. I know a few people who contracted the virus, though they were over seventy and experienced other health issues. No matter, when people we know die, a hole is left in our relationships heart that no-one else seems able to fill. I always seek to reflect on the good times with these people, and cherish the positive memories of how, in some small or great way they positively impacted my life.
Lessons from Covid
Different people have been impacted in a variety of ways from this pandemic.
Some have seen their businesses expand; others have seized the moment, used their entrepreneurial flair and started new businesses; others have adjusted the way they operate their business to stay afloat, as they value their employees and want to make every effort to keep going.
Fee-paying schools, for example, have also been affected in different ways. Some schools have lost students as parents have either closed their businesses – the source of income for fee payments – or had to cut back on expenses, or moved to new areas for new job opportunities. No school that I know of has not been affected in some challenging way by this pandemic.
Many people have lost jobs. A neighbor of mine was General Manager of a large travel company which has been decimated by closed borders, the lack of international travel and significantly decreased tourism. He lost his job and says there are fifty to sixty applicants for most jobs he has applied for. He is concerned that he will be seen as too old or too experienced. All he wants is a job to give him a sense of dignity. I hear more and more stories like this each day.
My greatest Covid lesson
Yet the greatest Covid lesson I have learnt – in fact it is the reason why I started collating all my resources and sharing them with the global community three years ago (!) – is the importance of face to face relationships.
We have read and heard about youth especially who wanted to return to school after lockdowns so they could be with friends; others who simply wanted to meet up with a friend or two for a coffee and a chat, or go for a walk together, or attend a faith fellowship gathering. There have been so many stories about families spending more time together and building closer bonds, others re-prioritizing what is important in their lives, and others becoming more aware of having regular exercise and leading healthy and balanced lifestyles.
So, we can choose – because our choices define what happens in our lives most of the time – whether or not to be caught up in all the doom and gloom, and the fear mongering about the pandemic that seems to grip most countries and saturate much of the media.
Alternatively, while respecting our governments and how they try and navigate through the Covid issues and remaining law-abiding citizens, we can begin 2021 determined to be positive agents of change, build better relationships among the people with whom we interact, and spread messages of hope.
This is the path I have chosen. Let me briefly explain this choice.
Messages of hope
My passion has always been to encourage youth to reach their potential, something I never stop learning about. That is why I became a teacher, sports coach, school principal and youth mentor program developer and mentor trainer.
I have witnessed more times than I can remember how young people have responded to adults in their lives who express compassion, care and a non-judgmental attitude towards them.
Such approaches develop resiliency and teach our youth how to bounce back and overcome obstacles. They contribute to the development of a positive self-image (self-efficacy) which in turn enhances the developing brain as a more optimistic approach to life’s challenges occurs.
I have shared many times in recent months that I believe 2021 and beyond will require a massive growth of youth mentors to encourage our young people to work through their pandemic experiences with a positive mindset, a view also expressed by global youth mentoring researcher and expert, Professor Jean Rhodes in a recent article she wrote. It becomes a wonderful self-learning and self-development opportunity for our youth.
8 Key mentoring qualities for 2021
I decided to take the word PANDEMIC with so many negative connotations and the all too often gloom and doom narrative that accompanies any mention of this word, and craft a mentoring formula which can transform the hearts and minds of both volunteer adult mentors – and teachers, coaches, youth workers – and mentees to become positive agents of change in 2021.
Of course, there are many more mentoring qualities not covered in these eight key mentoring qualities and which I explain in my published books, EBooks and website resources.
My hope is that this list will motivate, inspire and equip anyone encouraging youth to find meaning and purpose in their lives – which all young people seek to attain – and then encourage them to set and achieve realistic goals as they chase their dreams.
In reality, these key qualities promote the spirit of mentoring among all age groups and contribute to the development of positive and meaningful relationships we all desire.
- Patient: Every person is unique with their own story. Seek to understand that story; remember that no-one is perfect, so work hard at patience (reminder to myself!) and perseverance. Never quit on a mentee is a great mentoring rule to follow.
- Authentic: Look for the small opportunities to sincerely encourage and affirm others. Be authentic at all times. Never be afraid to be vulnerable at the appropriate time, as you model a real, fallible and imperfect human to your mentee.
- Non-judgmental: Be that non-judgmental cheerleader – the wise guide on the side – your mentee desperately needs and will value; someone to speak to their potential they are often unable to see. Be prepared, as your mentee might test you from time to time to see how you respond to certain situations or questions.
- Demonstrate: Set out to be the best role model you can be, so your mentee observes how you model core values in your daily living, and walk the talk. Young people especially observe a mentor’s every move. They are listening – despite what you might think – to everything you say.
- Empathize: Do your best to walk in your mentee’s shoes to understand their life story, their hopes and fears as best as you can. Sometimes it’s important to feel the blisters. Your mentee is unique, so you will never fully understand what they share through your interactions with them, though you can display genuine interest to show them they are valued and respected.
- Motivate: Look for every opportunity to inspire and motivate your mentee. Acknowledge their efforts more than the performance outcomes; identify and name their strengths as this builds resilience.
- Integrity: Become a mentor who places integrity as one of the key relationship building qualities. Your mentee will respect you when they feel you are trustworthy and this could lead to potentially life-transforming conversations.
- Compassion: Do your best to express unconditional love and care towards your mentee at all times. A compassionate mentor understands and appreciates that mentees might take risks – not all of which are calculated. They will grab the selfless hands reaching out to them, picking them up and placing them back on the road to chase their goals and dreams. They start to believe: “I can do this.”
I have spent the past three years, as mentioned above, collating all my resources, my aim being to create some resources that will encourage anyone working with youth. I share true stories which highlight the importance of promoting a spirit of mentoring in our relationships with others, and offer hundreds of proven strategies and tips to deal with a variety of challenges mentors face during the mentoring journey. To save costs (both for myself and those interested in acquiring some of these resources), I have written three EBooks thus far, with another two or three available in 2021. All the resources are mentioned on my website. You can download your FREE copy of EBook 1 now. Within that book is the link to acquire your FREE copy of EBook 2, together with EBook 3.