January 23, 2012

The Power of a Mentor

On January 3, 2012, President Barack Obama has issued a proclamation officially designating January as National Mentoring Month. January 2012 marks the 11th anniversary of National Mentoring Month, and this year's campaign, Invest in the Future. Mentor a Child, is being driven by the Harvard Mentoring Project of the Harvard School of Public Health, MENTOR, and the Corporation for National and Community Service.

There are plenty of good reasons to designate a month to honor mentors and raise awareness about this transformational form of relationship. Mentor, the National Mentoring Partnership, again tells us what has been clear for a very long time. Studies of both well-established programs and newer ones that provide youth with formal one-to-one mentoring relationships, have provided strong evidence of their success in reducing the incidence of delinquency, substance use and academic failure. These studies further indicate that formal youth mentoring programs can also promote positive outcomes, such as improved self-esteem, social skills and knowledge of career opportunities.

A Ford Foundation study also found that high school students with mentors are more likely to graduate from high school, enroll in college, have fewer arrests, have fewer children, become involved in community service and are more hopeful about their future than those without mentors. These are not uncommon findings. One-on-one mentoring really does work, and it deserves our support.

On the National Mentoring Month website there is a list of 10 things a person interested in this concept might do, including become a mentor! One easy action I really like for those who aren't ready to step into a full mentoring relationship, is to, "Think about the mentors in your life, and post a tribute to them online." Most men have a guy or two in the background of their lives, other than their father, who gave them a boost, some coaching, was supportive, or who showed up at an important time in their lives. You can post a "thank you" tribute to that man by going to the Who Mentored You website for ideas about where, or by telling the readers of this blog about him in the (new) comments section to this post below.

Another simple action listed on the National Mentoring Month website is to simply find a mentoring organization near you and make a donation. With the deep cutbacks in funding, these heroic organizations need your financial support more than ever. For a zip code search to find a mentoring organization near you, look in the center of the home page of Mentor, The National Mentoring Partnership.

In the Man-Making book, I outline a dozen or more ways men can have a positive, and often critical, influence in a young man's life. I know mentoring is not for all men. However, after good and involved fathers, there isn't a connection more powerful than a long-term, one-on-one mentoring relationship. Men who have taken that step will always say both males were made better for their time together. The truth is, every man reading this post, just as he is right now, is perfect for the job!

You make me want to be a better man!
Jack Nicholson (as Melvin)
As Good As It Gets (1997)

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  1. Earl,

    I want you to know it's not just about men mentoring boys to men, but men mentoring other men. I have always considered you a mentor to me, both as a speaker and now a writer. It has been a twenty-two year friendship that has been priceless in my development.

    I want to thank you for that!



  2. Thanks Mike,

    As in all mentoring relationships, it's always a two-way street. I've had countless gifts from our connection, and am a better man (and writer) because are in my life.

    Thanks for being you and my friend.



Your response to this blog post is appreciated and welcome.