Being a male is a matter of birth, being a man is a matter of age but being a positive and active mentor is a matter of choice, he didn’t tell me, he showed me.
Wisdom can only be obtained through personal growth, ageing and the experiences we have in life. To me this means we can have a mature young man but not a wise one. I think this interpretation is important because it substantiates the vital role a positive and active mentor can play for us no matter what our age.
Who are our mentors? They can come from a pool of people, but are predominantly sourced from the following areas:
- someone older;
- for a bloke, dads are our first choice (92%). This is interesting because society’s demographics are changing. Research tells us that in 1960 10% of all kids were living away from their dads whereas by 2010 this had grown to 27% of all kids living away from their dads. This is a significant shift and one that puts additional pressure on the vital role of male mentoring;
- father figures, grandfathers, uncles, brothers, teachers or sporting coaches;
- it can be someone who is not in your field of work or play, this can help gain a natural and external viewpoint.
When we are deciding what to do in life (whether it is day to day stuff or longer-term), talking to a mentor can help us with our decision making. This is important both in our personal life and our working and business careers.
A positive and active mentor:
- not only listens to what you’re saying, but asks open ended and reflective questions;
- has opinions which you respect but acknowledges that you don’t have to act on or agree with them;
- gives wisdom and perspective (lived experience);
- acts as a sounding board and confidant.
When making major decisions, talking through issues with a mentor is beneficial. Young blokes especially need to tell their stories to mentors. It is by this process that they can validate and question where they are at and where they are heading in life. It helps them to clarify their issues, thus cultivating independent thinking.
There is never a time in a man’s life that he won’t benefit from having a positive and active mentor. Mentoring is about developing relationships, it takes time and sacrifice, it’s a two-way street and everyone benefits. Blokes often have three types of people (mates) that we can spill our guts to. These usually come from the following categories:
- a peer;
- a partner;
- a mentor.
As blokes we need to identify who these people are. Ask yourself the question who is my mentor? This person may change through our life journey but remember positive mentoring is rewarding and being an active mentor is our choice.
By The Regional Men’s Health Initiative