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Mentors for the rest of us

Mentoring programs are mostly for kids.
  [vote for,

There are a lot of organizations that seek to pair adult mentors with child or young adult proteges. But what of those of us who are well into adulthood, but are still largely naive to the ways of mankind. I for one wish I could find someone to show me the ropes, especially in a trade or profession. Or introduce me to some people with lives that I can maybe "network" with. Or help me develop salescrittership or whatever skill it is that I need to get my life out of the temp/part time rut it's always been in. I understand that there are people who need mentoring more than do I, but it would be nice if there were some organization that had room for me. I bet I'm not the only one.
LoriZ, Aug 26 2001

This idea's already been parodied on Seinfeld http://www.tvtome.c...howid-112/epid-2380
[mrthingy, Aug 26 2001, last modified Oct 21 2004]


       Try playing role-playing games with people of your same age. I find that this presents excellent networking opportunites.
Aristotle, Aug 26 2001

       The changes to 'the rules' have been bewildering - what with the advent of technology - consumerism - downsizing - specialized skills - combinations thereof... Nevertheless, Think about this before replying, LoriZ: What Do You Want To Do?
Be Fearless.
thumbwax, Aug 26 2001

       Essentially a good idea but as Mephista had noted, the number of available mentoring schemes don't really seem to work. I find that reading extensively on a person, or knowing a person and then choosing to model yourself on him or her works very well in terms of betterment. It's good to 'know the ropes', but I believe it's more important to have a set of coping mechanisms that help with learning the ropes in the first place -if that makes any sense at all.
sdm, Aug 26 2001

       Networking sounds good, but it's just a more professional way of, well, getting to know people. Try reading up on Dr. Laurence J. Peter's books, e.g. _The Peter Principle_. Also, Malcolm Gladwell's _The Tipping Point_. And hey, as a high school senior in Lima Christian School, south of Rochester, New York, I'd love to network. I can share some html knowledge, general advanced math (I love it), social commentary, not much else. I'm in need of those mentors, eh? So write me if you want -- dmitri@rome.com
decafsilicon, Aug 27 2001

       UnaBubba: // managerial level ... quite effective ... no free lunch ... If you always do what you've always done then you'll always... // and so on, and so on.   

       E-gad! The motivational management guru's have got to UnaBubba! Come back! Come back!
sdm, Aug 27 2001

       LoriZ -   

       The best thing you can do is to go out and get your own mentor - without some program to coordinate it for you. Think about who you want as a mentor - make a short list. Develop a "sales pitch" that explains what the mentor will get out of it.   

       It IS a good idea, in part. Mentorship is good. Seeking your own mentor is good. But having a "program" - state or private institution - isn't so great.   

       Mediocrity results from taking a good idea and institutionalizing it.
quarterbaker, Aug 27 2001

       [Mephista & sdm] I think what Loriz is proposing is something on bigger scale than a particular company.   

       This sounds like a program for "life skills" in the vein of Big Brother.   

       For lack of a better phrase, I'll call it The Grown Up Program. It's a program whose purpose is helping people learn the skills that are normally acquired piecemeal by certain members of one's family, extended family or friends. Examples? Perhaps, how trouble shoot your car, plumbing or electricity; how to BUY a car or house; how to negotiate; how to work within the corporate structure, etc. If so, I like this idea. LoriZ, am I way off?
iuvare, Aug 27 2001

       This system should be inherent within our society. A new or interested member within a specific area of expertise should be welcomed with open arms rather than being shunned as possible competition - which is the way things often operate. Looking at my background as an artist, the only real mentors I had were at university. Now in the real world its difficult to find the right kind of feedback, and to get an objective view of the work even during and after exhibition. "I like it," or "The blue is too much" doesnt really cut it when your'e looking for a more accurate angle on what's going on in the body of work as a whole. I agree with quarterbaker in application of this idea, but perhaps a government incentive is the only way to push it - I guess the University system is the essence of LoriZ idea, in that its a government run mentorship program with classes, exams etc with people who know the ropes (or at least pretend to).
benfrost, Aug 28 2001

       :: Actually, I'm not looking so much as merely trying to understand the scope of this idea. ::
iuvare, Aug 28 2001

       Good discussion here. I like the guru idea, and it doesn't have to be restricted to India. It's just that the US and most of europe is in a competitive mode (as benfrost noted).   

       Why is institutionalization bad? Here's an example. Recently, in the US, lots of high schools (and some colleges) have started requiring "community service" for graduation. This basically ruined community service for those students who did it without the program. Why? Because (1) their service effort was formerly a mark of exception. It was something the student voluntarily chose to do, and because of that it is more valuable than if it were compelled or required. When every student must do it to graduate, it disvalues the students who would do it anyway. (2) An exceptional student may have performed community service in a manner that was anonymous, or otherwise not noticed by the school administration. Now the student has to break that anonymity, or at least point out her work to the administrators. Again, part of the honor of the activity is tarnished by institutionalization.   

       If you want to have a mentor or guru relationship, it will be most valuable, productive, etc., if it is self-initiated. The fact that no "program" or other formal social structure exists makes the individual effort to mentor more valuable and honorable.   

       I agree in part with iuvare: LoriZ says that she is "still largely naive to the ways of mankind." Well, losing that naivete IS growing up (and you never really lose it - we're all naive in some way). There's no easy way around it. A diverse family and social peer group will usually provide people with a broad base of mini-mentors. I.e., if it's a car problem, learn from Dad, if it's money problem, learn from Mr. Jones the banker next door, etc.   

       But as far as professional mentorship, the competitive nature of current capitalistic economies is very darwinian. Some hardcore types would say that if you need a mentor, then you ain't gonna make it. Sink or swim. While I agree with that to some extent, I also think that there may be a lot of potential winners who just need a little bit of early guidance.   

       Your best bet is to do it yourself, as I mentioned in my first post.   

       As a last thought, maybe this shows a weakness of modern individualism and social dynamics. It seems that most people develop relationships with others that are based on physical attraction, mutual recreational interests, shared entertainment preferences, etc. Who knows, really, what the bases are. But, from what I have observed, most "friendships" consist of sharing vices, sharing trivialities like entertainment (music, movies, food), and talking about relationships. I'm not saying these are bad, but it would be a different kind of place if we encouraged each others virtues, and engaged in life-affirming and growing activities with each other. Does this make sense?
quarterbaker, Aug 28 2001

       I'll probably revisit this idea later since I'm short on time right now. Not a bad suggestion fundamentally, but not an elaboration on what would be personally beneficial to you either [waves at LoriZ to see if she waves back]. A lot of mentoring that I'm familiar with ends up as a sort of conundrum: e.g., we raise our kids in ever larger play pens until they play in pens the size of ballfields, while we adjust our animals to range further from their pens in anticipation of them roaming freely in a society without boundaries. A mentor in these circumstances is like a specialist in overpopulation strategies -- role modeling and with the program. The thought content behind socialization programs is either focused to draw on the group dynamic (a sense of belonging or awareness of altruistic purpose substituting for discipline) or synthesized to expose the individual moral dilemma (standing for what one desires draws one into a challenge that produces experience by way of risk spread among the challengers) of a team membership role. What educational strategy may work when delivered from an authoritative role model will be effective so long as the legitimate authority of the peer-modeling figure is maintained. Later life mentoring programs focus less on control of authoritativeness of ideas to shift more control over to authoritative dispensation of power involved in whatever role is to be attained. The management of a control-goal shift in orientation is what is sought during longer term programs that move participants from task training into leadership training. [LoriZ]: from your tone, I infer that you are trained but lack firm goals; therefore, you feel a vacuum in your motivational underpinning. It would help you to be reassured that your internal conceptual knowledge and principles are generally acceptable and worthy. You feel life can be rather unpleasant when you step out of your comfort zone and are scrutinized by the same measure you would expect to be applied to your mastered attributes. An ideal candidate for to be your mentor would have to be someone with the foresight to design a precæptorship for you that would keep others from overwhelming you with responsibility. Your interests must florish while you feel absolutely unshakeable in your confidence if you are to eventually become organization capital. Your mentor must balance attention to your strengths and weaknesses, and to do this without supposing to control your access to a position or other goal requires the mentor to treat strength or weakness as equal sources of contamination to your own adjustment. Kids you can just say 'no means no' until you're blue in the face or they get it. Adults are more likely to take an unequivocal 'no' to mean "you've had it." Much more difficult to treat adults than children, yes?   

       You seem to be wanting to better your personal skills or graces, unless I miss my guess. I don't know much about that but I'll get back to you in a couple of days.
reensure, Aug 28 2001, last modified Aug 29 2001

       reensure: (-:wave:-) you paint a pretty accurate picture, if not a pretty picture.   

       UnaBubba: think more second chances than free lunches.   

       decafsilicon: you'd be the ideal mentor, since you grok advanced mathematics. I have only a bs in mathematics.   

       quarterbaker: I guess I despise institutions more for their hierarchy than their mediocrity. Somehow I can't find it in myself to criticize someone or something for mediocrity :)
LoriZ, Aug 31 2001

       //Somehow I can't find it in myself to criticize someone or something for mediocrity//

First: try to overcome that low hurdle.
Second: overcome that, and you will have cleared what is philosophically a high hurdle.
Be Fearless in doing so, and you will find that instead of looking for a Mentor, you will in fact Be The Mentor - not only to someone else...
But To Yourself, as you will have gained Mastery - That is The Goal.
thumbwax, Aug 31 2001

       //Somehow I can't find it in myself to criticize someone or something for mediocrity//   

       When was the last time you were praised for so-so performance? Placing high standards, or equating achievement with superlative work, is characteristic of a flawed world view. I'm not contradicting your statement directly, thumbwax, because you're absolutely correct about how vital self esteem is to becoming self actualized. My point is (I'm backing this with Fordyce's sixth and most controversial fundamental -- lower your expectations and aspirations) that true mentorship is a collaborative effort that should proceed like an imitative process; that is to say, what a mentor does becomes the affective expression of a mentor's inductee. No specific demands to follow are placed and no explicit correlation between the performance of the mentor and the inductee is used as a measure of accomplishment.
reensure, Aug 31 2001

       [Mephista]'s description of a guru is basically my idea of a mentor. As the [quarterbaker] says, it is a good thing to meet regularly with a more mature person than yourself, usually older, and share with them and learn from them.
jabbers, Aug 31 2001

       Yes, that is correct reensure - with each effort, it becomes closer to effortless to be all one can be. I've been spending a large chunk of time in halfbakery since my return from a much needed vacation (1st one in 5 years). It has been good exercise for the mind and spirit - and in its various permutations - has given me strength to do what it is I had put aside for the time being. Hopefully, certain goals of mine will be easier to achieve in the not - too - distant future, as I'm ready to begin the beguine, as the rhythm of writing is calling me once again.
thumbwax, Aug 31 2001

       The problem as I experience it is that there are two types of job opportunities that normally become public knowledge...dead end jobs, and other-than-dead-end jobs with other-than-dead-end jobs as prerequisites. At least to my naive (for my age) understanding, knowledge about jobs in neither of the above categories is a closely guarded secret, perhaps by contractual agreement for all I know. Many annotations on this page endorse the idea of someone deciding who they want as a mentor or guru, and going out and trying to recruit them. Thus far in my life I have been operating under the following assumptions   

       1. Being a mentor has something to do with revealing "trade secrets" to selected people, supposedly selected for their excellence in humbler roles.   

       2. It is more polite to ask someone to be a protege than to ask someone to be a mentor.   

       My motivation for this is my (perhaps seriously flawed) understanding of the "golden rule". I find salescrittership an annoying trait more often than not, and I have heard people say things that seem to imply I'm not the only one. On occasion I even hear successful people express such sentiments. I suspect that my understanding of this basic principle of personal conduct may be seriously flawed because if it's not, I clearly live in a culture where few if any good deeds go unpunished.
LoriZ, Sep 01 2001

       Define: success
(Nevermind what anyone else defines success as - nor your previously stated "...I even hear successful people...")
thumbwax, Sep 01 2001


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