What is a mentor?

Noun a wise and trusted counselor or teacher, an influential senior sponsor or supporter
First, I shared the dictionary definition.
Now let me share my personal definition of the word mentor. There are various forms of mentoring and mentors but I want to give all of you a full end to end definition of the word. This is my version of the word mentor and how it’s helped me, so when I mention “my youth audience”, I’m talking about my young positive males that need mentoring the most and could possibly be the best mentors themselves. The definition above is the generic term, the more universally accepted term by all. When you see the template embodied…that’s the definition that you see.
A mentor could be anyone…it could be an uncle, a older cousin, a neighbor, corner store employee, the local bum on the street, the alcoholic, the weed-head…wait before you get crazy about the last three I mentioned…let’s go back to the definition. A “wise”, “trusted”, “teacher”, “influential” “senior” …the bum, alcoholic, and weed-head all have something you don’t have…experience. When I was coming up, the local alcoholic, Rodney, would make the neighborhood kids laugh but continuously deter us from any activity that led to his plight. He was the older harmless dude…but when “Bottle Rod”as we called him, would get his daily salve, he would dispense wisdom…sometimes in nuggets…sometimes in bolders.  There was a wisdom about alcohol that he had and I didn’t, but it wasn’t pretty and he didn’t make it pretty but those pebbles help me slide far enough away from the temptation to try a sip prematurely.  Similar to the weed-heads that befriended me because my mothers boyfriend sold nickel bags of weed, back when they were $5.00 in the yellow envelopes.  Yeah I was the younger wide-eyed naïve kid that was always peeping and watching, but these individuals were influential in decisions I would make later in my life. Decisions that would make or break my future…and yes…they came from the “trusted” alcoholics and weed-heads around the way. I had a close family member that was a “functioning alcoholic”. I’m just now coming to terms with that. She always had wisdom, plenty of it, just that when the alcoholic wisdom was in your face and “figuratively” made your nose bleed from the brutal honesty it was something you didn’t forget in short time. Her lessons hit deep and hard, but those lessons applied in my life, allowed me to avoid some of her own pitfalls.  So anyone that has an experience that can share with you without wanting something or having an agenda…SHUT YOUR MOUTH and LISTEN.  When that wisdom is free unfiltered, unabridged….take it!  Don’t look down your nose at someone because they made a bad decision, they could possibly help you avoid making that same bad decision. Let’s be clear…these characters don’t always have the best intentions…so don’t go looking to have sit downs with the unsavory characters in the hood.  Similar to the man that’s dressed in a suit will always be trustworthy, that’s not true! Your new mentor may be just trying to align himself with you to get close to your mother. It’s not always the case, but be careful with any man that’s in a hurry to help you when your mother is around watching. I’m just saying be appreciative and open to receiving wisdom in every vessel.

Now, a mentor should be a person that guides, makes you better. He or she should be someone you look up to that your parent(s) also endorse. Any mentor can come along at any point in your life. He or she doesn’t have to be present or available just when you see them or when you’re under the age of 21.

I’m older but I still have social mentors that are in my community. For example, in 1996 when I started volunteering as a mentor with Concerned Black Men, Inc. (DC Chapter), I looked at Kelvin G. and Edward F. and David J. These three men were the examples that I needed to be the best mentor I could be. They all embodied a collective “perfect mentor” to me. So while I was mentoring youth, I was being mentored by these gentlemen. They were and still are the best examples of men that anyone could want.

I have professional mentors that are influential in my career. I have family mentors that I align with regarding family issues. For example, my uncle, Voshell R. Smith, “Rusty”, has always been my rock, my anchor but career wise, he’s admitted that I’ve surpassed him in a corporate career sense. He’s passed on so much wisdom about people that I still use his examples in every realm of my life. He is and always will be my go to person. Don’t assume a mentor has a place in only one aspect of your life. Use other peoples experiences as your guide, you don’t have to make the mistake again…or the same mistake someone else made.

This is your blog, your forum, ask any questions that may help us both grow as black successful men.


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Filed under Life Skills, Relationships

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