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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mentoring - How To Do It

Over the weekend at one of the coaches clinics, a coach asked a really good question:

How do you mentor a young man? I mean I want to be his coach, not his friend ...

The short answer - Both AND ...

But I wanted to hear what you all thought about it as well. Here is what Coach Willertz wrote.
Mentoring our players and young people is a job all men must do.  It's not a question of why me?  It just comes with the turf.  Throughout history adult men mentored the boys and younger men, from the apprenticeships of New England to farmers of the Midwest "instructing" their children in the ways of cattle, chickens and hay.  It's a natural phenomenon.

But why does it seem so difficult to so many men today?  Probably because so few men today having been actively mentored by adult men when they were growing up.  I think we are in a time today, when so many adults don't know how to be adults, to parent effectively because they weren't mentored or parented very effectively. It's pretty hard to teach what you don't know.

So how do you mentor?  Personally, I think the most important element in mentoring is mentoring by example.  "What you do speaks so loud, I can't hear what you say." somebody important said.  And it's true.  Your student has eyes for you and on you 24 hours a day.  He dreams about you, he admires you, he watches you.  You must "act right", if you want your young one to "act right".  This can be tough, especially since so many adult men think it's their right to smoke, drink, cuss, etc...  But to instruct means you have to get your act together and start acting like a real man, 24/7.  Of course you'll fail and fall, but your attitude when you do, your humility and your perseverance will speak as well.  I am sure you will need help in your path to holiness(every man does), so you too should search for a mentor as well.

How close should I get to my charge? How casual/or strict should I be?  I think it's important to understand the relationship between you and your young mentee.  This is not an equal relationship, you are not looking for a 14 year old friend(at least I hope not), you are the adult, the wise one, the one who should know better and the mentee is the student.  Although it's fine to be familiar, a boundary should be set. Both parties should know this.  Don't expect the mentee to know this without you telling them.  You are setting up your relationship for a fall if you expect an immature, emotional teenager to grasp the subtleties of a mentoring relationship.  You set the boundaries, make sure all know the expectations, then be as familiar or strict as you think is right.

Mentoring can be so rewarding and so frustrating at the same time.  Be patient, be ready for you to be a part of a youngsters life for a long time, into their 20's and beyond.  Don't beat yourself up if you don't always give good advice or screw up.  Ultimately any relationship is good for both parties.  Take the time to realize the grace that you have been given to be important in a young person's life, pray and do the best you can. YOU CAN DO IT!

Love and admiration,
Coach Willertz
Winton Woods Wrestling: Faith, Focus, Fight!!!

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