Mentorship Resources

And Things I've Learned

I am ten years older than my brother. When I was his age, I was in my first year at MIT. I felt so lucky.

This is my brother Nick. I think he is lucky too. I am teaching him a lot of what I learned at MIT, and a lot I wished I learned back then so that he'll be prepared when he goes to college.

He has blossomed since living with me. I had no idea he would change so much over such a short period of time.

We made a deal with each other, that we would take what we learned through this experience and share it with our family and friends. We want to share our luck with other people.

Here it is, my attempt to share the best of what we have learned, to convince you to be a mentor, to seek a mentor, and to give you something to start with. Please let me know what you think.

My 'How' and 'Why'

Mentoring is the best way I can help the people I care about fulfill their potential, and it's my most reliable source of happiness and fulfillment.

Resistance to change is the greatest mentoring challenge, and I am convinced that this resistance can be addressed by observing and defining identity, setting a productive mindset, and journaling to observe, celebrate, and remember progress.

Why Achievement Happiness

How Identity Mindset Journaling

Why Achievement

People are held back from their full potential by the absence of a mentor.

I want to give the people I love the benefit of having a mentor, and propel them forward to reach their potential.

Behind every young millionaire you'll find an educated and wise mentor. I have yet to meet any millionaires or billionaires who don't have mentors that guide them, challenge them, and focus them on thinking bigger.

Peter Vogd, Author, in Entrepreneur.com

Mentorship relationships could last a lifetime or a moment. Mentors can be a sibling or a cousin, a peer or a teacher. Mentors can share something in a moment that will replay in our minds again and again if they just took the time to learn about us and share their thoughts.

Why Happiness

I saw as my little brother began to realize that he could understand things by learning about them, that he was quite capable of learning how to do things that mattered. He realized he could really get better with practice, and finally to believe that all he needed was time.

I know I made a difference in his life, and that makes me happy. More than that, I know he will keep learning, and because of that he will be a better friend, mentor, and father one day. That gives me immense satisfaction.

"Helping someone else succeed can be immensely gratifying," Ryckman says. "But what I’ve heard time and again from executive ‘elders’ is how much they gain in return when they mentor young people. They’re often surprised at how much they learn from their mentees. Mentoring really goes both ways; when different generations come together, their blend of skills can be highly complementary."

Pamela Ryckman, Author, as cited in Forbes

I can't think of a more satisfying feeling than to invest your time in a person, to see them open up and develop and make use of your guidance.

How Identity

The biggest obstacle I see to personal and professional growth is our natural resistance to change. We are hard-wired to learn and to grow. At the same time, we feel the need to be loved and accepted just as we are. This conflict causes discomfort that triggers resistance.

What you are saying to yourself in the face of feedback, whether it is direct or indirect, off hand, or sarcastic, [...] can cause us to react to feedback, and consequently defeat or block learning.

We can feel blame for needing to change, guilt for not having changed already, or fear that we won't be able to change, triggering more discomfort and more resistance. We criticise the advice and even the motives of the adviser to justify dismissing the advice and restoring our sense of self.

Our identity is our self-image. If we were a character on TV, our identity would help us predict what our character would do in each scene. Does our character read before bed? Would our character exercise or journal in the morning? Would they learn to play an instrument?

When giving advice, just being aware that identity and self-esteem are important parts of difficult conversations can really help.

We can grow and stay true to our identity. We can expand our character to include what we learn and how we chose to be. We can learn and craft ourselves as long as we are mindful of our resistance, listen and speak compassionately, and set our minds to it.

How Mindset

There is a subtle difference in how we evaluate ourselves or give encouragement to others that has a substantial effect on behavior and performance. As mentors, it is important that we train ourselves to recognize when our speech promotes a growth or a fixed mindset.

People may start with different temperaments and different aptitudes, but it is clear that experience, training, and personal effort take them the rest of the way. [...] it's not always the people who start out the smartest who end up the smartest.

Carol Dweck, Stanford, in Mindset

Carol Dweck asserts unequivically and with sources that attributes like resilience, memory, attention are not fixed attributes, that they can be developed with practice.

Realizing that a person's true potential is unknowable had a profound effect on my brother. Dweck put it best, "You can see how the belief that cherished qualities can be developed creates a passion for learning."

You can help yourself and others unleash that passion for learning by thinking of intelligence and personality as something you can develop, not fixed. By taking on a growth mindset, challenges become opportunities to learn, and potential is not measured by performance, but determined by the will to keep working at it.

How Journaling

Journaling enables you to peer inside of your own mind, to be a visitor, to observe your thoughts and feelings. There is no better way to get to know yourself aside from meditation.

Meditations of Marcus Aurelius offers a glimpse into the mind of the last grand Roman Emperor and accomplished philosopher. Through Aurelius's writing we hear his voice as he would speak with himself. We see what he sees and are given an appreciation for the things he thinks are important. Book I is dedicated to listing his mentors, and the lessons they gave him.

From my great-grandfather: not to have attended schools for the public; to have had good teachers at home, and to realize that this is the sort of thing on which one should spend lavishly.

Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor and Philosopher, in Meditations

I have to remind myself that he wrote believing he was his only audience. If a Roman Emperor would make the time to journal while on campaign, he must have thought it was a valuable enough exercise to spend the time to do it.

As I began journaling I became suddenly aware of unexpected benefits. My thoughts slowed down as I wrote, and letting me think about better wording. It took so long to write a down a thought that I was much more selective. The permanence of the ink on paper made more careful with each stroke. I started reading my writing and could see where I was being impractical or unobservant.

Taking a moment to describe the events in my life made them more real. I took the time to describe the sights and the smells, to try and record the feeling of those meaningful moments in my life. I have always had a terrible memory, but now I know that I missed those memories because I didn't take the time to think about them.

The act of building the habit to journal as a worthwhile exercise in building a habit. Once we choose our identity, it is only through the building of habits do we overcome old habits and reinforce the character we chose to play.

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