A mentor is by definition “a wise and trusted counselor, guide or teacher” or as an action that means “to support or advise someone with less experience to help them to develop in their work.”

“American Ninja Mentor” was a 2018 PSC University course taught by the team of Richard Minckler, AIA, Dawn Moore, SPHR, Dan Hart, FAIA/PE, and Troy Swinney, PE. This course discussed questions like “Who can mentor?” as well as elements of mentorship.

The word “mentor” was first recognized as the name of a character in Homer’s The Odyssey. After the use in the story of Mentor and Telemachus, son of Odysseus, several other people have been titled mentor. Ralph Waldo Emerson to Henry David Thoreau, Socrates to Plato, Jesus to the Apostles, and Warren Buffet to Bill Gates were some additional examples given during this discussion. Being a mentor, however, is not limited to these well-recognized historical figures.

Sometimes, mentors are not in positions that we expect, like teachers or coaches. Mentors can include peers, spouses, bosses, co-workers, children and others. These relationships can develop through leadership, sharing experiences, exposure to new perspectives, legacies and many more instances.  Mentors don’t always choose to be mentors; the mentees often choose them.

In the presentation, Dawn read a quote by Oprah Winfrey. “Mentors are important, and I don’t think anybody makes it in the world without some form of mentorship.”

Elements of a mentorship include: being focused and present, a good listening ear and engaging in the relationship with questions. Socrates would often respond to his students’ questions with another question and is recognized today for this engaging mentoring technique known as the Socratic Method.

Additional characteristics mentioned in this presentation were: being a role model by “walking the walk,” creating action items for accountability and learning from each other as both a mentor and mentee. These elements also tie into being humble, honoring sincere and truthful feedback, patience, keeping confidentiality to maintain trust and “meeting people where they are.” No situation of mentorship is exactly alike, but the ultimate goal in these situations is for people to become better versions of themselves.

At PSC, when we mentor, we “Building Community” and live our collective and individual values. This helps our workplace to identify upcoming talent, improve morale, motivate each other and develop high performers and new leadership.

Who are your current mentors?