January is Youth Mentoring Month – Thank Your Mentor!
The extraordinary results of youth mentoring should be shouted from the roof-tops. Millions of young people’s lives have been transformed by caring adults who took a child or teen under their wing and showed them someone cared about them and their future. I was one of those kids. Without my first mentor, it’s unlikely I would be the person I am today and I am pretty certain, there would be no Odyssey Mentoring & Leadership, the training and speaking company I started four years ago.
The caring adult who reached out to me was my junior high school (middle school) principal, George Kelerchian. I was in the sixth grade and I wanted to be an actress, a writer, scientist, wife and mother who would save the world.
But I was having some real problems with two of my teachers and I was miserable. Our weekly talks fluffed me up and got me going. He helped me make better choices. I’ve done everything I wanted to do back then and more, well, except becoming a scientist and the world still needs a lot more work.
Three of the most important lessons I learned from him were:
1. No matter how smart and strong you think you are, you don’t ever have to go it alone.
2. When you don’t go it alone, you can aspire to something higher than you ever would have thought possible.
3. .Mentoring is about polishing a diamond in the rough – people with potential who aspire higher have the most to gain from mentoring and being mentored.
These lessons resonate throughout my life and in my book, Aspire Higher, compelling true stories of career and business mentoring success. In the book, I unpack the basic principles that make mentoring so powerful whether you are a mentor or mentee.
I consistently seek out the mentors I need. What I gained from my mentoring relationships made it possible for me to successfully run youth mentoring programs for 15 years and move on to delivering mentorship, leadership and communication training for organizations throughout the U.S.
Being a mentee and a mentor has helped me reach my goals, advance my career, pick myself up when I was down, get going when I was stopped, learn to appreciate the value of the struggle and take advantage of unexpected opportunities. And I’m not done yet. My goal is to be 100 with plans. I may not save the world completely, but I will leave it a better place.
National Mentoring Month is a campaign held each January to promote youth mentoring throughout the United States. If you are volunteering as a mentor to a young person, thank you for the difference you’re making. If you had a mentor who gave you a hand up like my mentor did for me, go ahead and contact them – NOW would be a great time to re-connect and show your appreciation.
Susan Bender Phelps runs Odyssey Mentoring & Leadership. She is a nationally recognized corporate trainer and speaker. She is also a contributing editor for ASPIRE Magazine.