Mentoring Wisdom from Four Mentors
Mentoring Wisdom is about 4 mentors who helped shape my practice of mentoring and competence as a mentor.
They each gave me the gift of mentoring through the presence of mentorship.
Mentoring Wisdom of Four Mentors and the Actions I Took (Words Really Matter)
Life decisions are made from the choices available.
To have appropriate choices requires you value learning how to learn. And for the decisions to have meaning, simple and relevant action is necessary.
In the fall 2010 I made a significant decision based on the actions I’d taken to date. I learned I had to transform my life so I might discover and explore what I had to offer the world and myself.
I was stepping up to the ledge knowing in my heart of heart, head of head and hands of hands, what I needed would appear. In order to live my great life I had to make a major shift in what I believed. I had to up the ante in why and how I would LEARN * DECIDE * ACT in ways I would value and demonstrate being my best for the world.
To set up where I’m today I have backtrack to the 1970s and share the influence of four mentors I met along the way. It was their combined insights that contributed to my current life situation. This past forward look at my life will offer insight into the importance of living fully from my word for the world via my legacy intentions.
Summary: Work introduction mentor = creative process = re:creation – travel and exploration = importance of play beyond boundaries
My work started in recreation. Between the YMCA and local government recreation programs, I was employed in summer-winter playground and outdoor programs. Children were my clients. And according to their laughter and involvement I was a great play facilitator.
It was my program coordinator who introduced me to the basic concepts of the creative process. He encouraged me to extend myself outside of my perceived norm. He challenged me to step up and do things differently at work and in life. He provided the guiderails for my work. He cheered me on to find the connection with the children that meant something to both of us. It was my first introduction to my purpose and the work will follow.
Personally, my creative expression was through writing poetry. The poems were given as birthday wishes and special event congratulations. They summarized my feelings on many topics aligned with the angst of a teenager. They were written on scraps of paper and cardboard lids of potato chip boxes during the quiet moments at the youth drop in center. Eventually, artist sketchbooks with their plain paper were my favorite journal.
I carried my interest of the creative process into my university studies and community participation. It was my continued involvement in recreation programming that kept the wolves at bay with enough money to stay at university. Summer work involved canoeing programs in northern Ontario to winter recreation programs at various community schools.
To my great joy, I helped form the Creative Play Committee of Northern Ontario and thereafter frame and deliver programs to communities along the northern shore of Lake Superior. I made my first conference presentation at the age of 20 with this group. The most salient insight I remember receiving from my committee members was “Give them enough to want more.” Seems I turned on the fire hose for forty minutes.
At university I realized that studying civil engineering was not my topic of choice nor was acquiring a forestry degree. And so, I completed the necessary courses to obtain my forestry technology diploma. It took me four years to get a two-year diploma. Mind you – they were four great years ))smiles.
Throughout my university endeavors, my first mentor’s voice kept replaying in my mind. To paraphrase my memory, “You need to step up and make a difference. Often the difference is not immediate. But yes, at some point you’ll make a difference. Which means, the more you see of what the world has to offer, the bigger the difference you’ll make as you sing and dance with the people you meet.”
I took up his challenge – I went to see the world.
What was to have been a six-month trip to England and Australia turned into a four-year awesome adventure of firsts, seconds and considerable learning and development. To keep myself motivated and having fun, I focused my trip around the central theme of “children’s playground design.” And this travel focus led me to jobs and conversations that built the foundation of my life.
Suffice to say my three years in Western Australia, two of those in the outback were what a young man needed to experience during his walkabout. Like all good things, I had to leave. My working visa was to expire. The travel options were island hopping across the Pacific, the Trans-Siberia Railway tour or driving across Asia and Europe. I chose the bus tour.
It was this overland trip from Katmandu, Nepal to London, England where in sickness and in health I discovered the importance of patience, flexibility and discretion. To travel with 30 other people in tight quarters I learned a lot from the decisions and actions I took. Rereading my daily journal of that trip is so much fun after the fact. LOL
Life shake up Mentor = a soldier in Uganda = learned patience, flexibility & discretion = linked to identify life purpose = and importance of words
Upon my return to Canada in 1980 – I went back to university. During this go around, I received two undergraduate degrees in geography and outdoor recreation and my masters in environmental-recreation geography.
I appreciated the geography degrees because I learned how to view something (a phenomena) in time and space. For example, when planning locations for pathways on a newly built university campus, it’s wise to leave pathways off the plan. First, build the buildings and then let the people walk about. They’ll show you the best places for the paved paths.
While completing my MSc degree, I was employed by The Canadian Red Cross Society in Alberta, Canada. This job led me to delegate training for overseas missions with the Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. My first mission involved visiting a Canadian youth group volunteering in Columbia, South America.
This trip reintroduced me to travel and working overseas. This experience awakened me to the story of stepping up and making a difference in the world that had been dormant as I gained on my university degrees.
Then, a posting for a relief delegate in Uganda, Eastern Africa appeared on my desk. Two months later – with twelve days notice – I was on my way through Copenhagen (Denmark) and Geneva (Switzerland) to Kampala (Uganda). My assignment was disaster preparedness and youth health education.
I was to help students at primary schools learn the next steps in planting the trees they grew beside their schools. They were replanting on the slopes to lessen mudslides during the rainy season.
The recent wars had burnt books, desks and high schools as people used these materials for cooking fuel. My job was to help the primary health care instructors write material high school students could learn and then share in their villages.
However – when I arrived. I was given a new assignment. The year was 1987.
I was to develop and begin implementation of a health education/promotion program on HIV/AIDS. I was tasked with researching what the country knew about HIV/AIDS. From the research findings I was to map and plan health promotion actions with Ugandan Red Cross staff and other Red Cross/Red Crescent societies.
This experience had profound consequences both personally and professionally. My life took a 180-degree swing with a colossal thud and a whooping bounce back. Upon reflection, my life is so much better because of what happened!
There was one encounter in particular that was pivotal.
Driving around Uganda sharing health promotion presentations meant stopping at roadblocks for military checks. A pile of rocks in the middle of the road indicated a roadblock if soldiers were present. Daylight hours meant stop. Nighttime meant speed up.
On one particular day we stopped. A soldier stepped forward with a Russian-made machine gun and poked the gun barrel into the cab of the truck. Since the soldier was unable or unwilling to speak in English, my driver served as translator.
The questions and answers began.
Because the barrel of the gun was so close to my face, I would use my right hand pointer finger to move it to the side rationalizing a loss of hearing was better than my head. Just as quickly the gun would return to my face.
After about a minute the barrel began to dance in front of my face. I heard laughter from the other soldiers sitting close by. I continued to answer the questions and realized the gun barrel was wavering even more.
While focused on the gun barrel, after about three minutes I heard my driver say, “We are going!”
The gun was withdrawn and I nodded goodbye. As we drove on I looked at the side mirror and asked my driver, “How old was the soldier?” He casually said, “She is about 14 years old.” Yes – that is correct ‘she’.
Fading into the mirror was a young girl recruited or volunteered into the military. She held a machine gun in my face.
The other soldiers’ laughter was their awareness she couldn’t hold the machine gun up because of its weight. And yet she stood in her courage to do her best.
Sitting back in my seat, I decided over the ensuing few minutes that there had to be a better way in which I would interact with the world. I made a commitment, “I would do whatever I could to eliminate situations where another young soldier, especially a young girl, would stick a gun in the face of another.” She inspired me to work from a place of education to help others.
I realized when you give up on your words, and action escalates to violence, then nobody wins and grows. This learning focused me on this short phrase, “Words really matter!”
In those three minutes of our connection and the minutes that passed by she vividly reminded me to stay found. In our brief exchange she became my Three Minute Mentor. To this day I wish I could find her and hug her for the lesson she gave me that day.
Staying found is a reflective concept when internalized that can save one’s life. It means remaining present (having presence) when all around you things are shifting, shuffling, shaking and shearing. To remain present means you step up into more meaningful learning, deciding and acting.
Let me give you an example borne of years of instructing wilderness remote first aid. Often when people get lost in the outdoors, they keep walking thinking they’ll find there way out. Some do. Others don’t.
When you continue to walk you “stay lost.” In contrast, when you “stay found” you find a place close to where you are now that is safe. You make preparations to stay. If you’ve planned correctly, people will know where to find you if you do not return on time. Let the energy you have keep you alive for additional days in a place where people can find you.
In life – when you stay lost its hard for others to find you and especially for you to find you. When you stay found people can locate you and interact to your mutual enjoyment.
You experience presence in staying found. Presence is the cornerstone of the meaning you give your person-abilities, and the self-concept you use to organize your involvement in situations, the optimism you share about the possibilities in front of you and the resilience necessary to reach a level higher than when you fell down without dysfunction.
Work focus mentor = culture clarity = organization of work = importance of legacy intentions linked to words I use in being the best for the world
I returned to Canada in 1990 after a third overseas mission. This time I worked with the International Committee of the Red Cross. I served as Air Operations Relief Delegate coordinating relief aircraft flying into the work zones of South Sudan. So much happened during that trip it would require another book – there’s a thought ))smiles.
I’ll write my legacy autobiography. The title whirling around so far is Yikes, Stripes and Zebra Spots: Loveraging Legacy as an Elder, Weaver and Curious Learner.
About three weeks after my return, I was faced with the decision. Do I continue my world adventure with the Red Cross or pursue my doctorate?
My ex-Head of Relief efforts was offering me international postings in the war zones of the world. Inside, I had wanted to complete a doctorate. The focus of which was to create something borne of my experiences, insights and calling.
And so …
I chose the doctorate. I felt I could do more great things with higher education than climbing higher with the Red Cross/Red Crescent organizations.
And so, began my doctoral journey. At which time I met my third mentor.
His insights into organization clarity and organizational culture were in sync with what I had been thinking. He was able to quantify what I qualitatively knew. Our conversations were out of this world. He introduced me to quantum physics, physics and metaphysics as it applied to the organization of work.
I was devouring books across multiple domains of knowledge and practice. Completing my courses and writing my papers all directed towards the final thesis. I dove into the studies, my work, my life with vigor.
And then two health scares, and the familiar doctoral WTF event came calling in the final stretch of thesis writing.
I remember sitting and spinning on my chair for at least 30 minutes. Then I woke up with a start and went for a walk.
It was on that walk that I remembered what my current mentor shared. To paraphrase, “It is a requirement of all people to share what they know in contribution to being the best for the world. In sharing your wisdom, it becomes someone else’s facts. And it is inexcusable not to share. Because how else would people get the facts needed to learn, decide and act in their contribution to the world. We receive a leg up from others we acknowledge.”
His insights rang the gong. I got it. I finished my doctorate. Resigned my post as college instructor and took up the entrepreneurial mantle. And to this day, I share my wisdom through my writings, workshops and mentoring.
I continue to read and listen to others. While sifting through their wisdom I seek insights that serve as new facts. These facts become synthesized data useful as information to frame the knowledge I learn and the wisdom I share. And so the cycle continues.
The end of the 1990s and into the 2000s marked another touchstone of my life. I developed my persona of DrWELLth and discovered my legacy intentions. I chose this persona, as a way to bring what is now known as avatar thinking to my marketing. I was using a caricature to accompany my story. I was blending the fact I had a doctorate with my wellth-based LEARN * DECIDE * ACT model. [Wellth refers to well-being to the nth degree for a person and well-living to the nth degree for people.]
In using this caricature it was necessary give people more than the usual marketing. I learned books make a great business card and brochure. I had literally thousands upon thousands of insights floating around me. And so, I sat down and wrote three books: Living YOUR Great Life, Creating the Well-Living Workplace and Co-Creating the Well-Living World.
What came next was awesome.
The three book titles expressed what I now call my legacy intentions. It seems I reverse engineered the creation of a powerful, clear, succinct, relevant and provocative process to help people figure out what is/are their core actions and outcomes that harmonize all of what a person will LEARN * DECIDE * ACT.
Legacy intention is your link between the formless (intention) and the formed (legacy) that demonstrates how you are being the best for the world as you bring something into ‘thingness’. Your life is an overarching story of creation and co-creation, and education of what you create so others will benefit in their lives.
Your story theme is summarized as your life purpose. In expressing your life purpose you live from your future in ways only you can share the story. And the world is better because of your story.
My life purpose is framed in this statement, “I am an educator of dimen(st)ionality.” That is, I am an educator, working in space(s) and time(t) to guide manager-leaders in helping themselves and their staff live great lives, create well-living workplaces and in doing so co-create the well-living world. I help manager-leaders step up, stay found and share wisdom about what really matters in organizing the work with their staff and clients.
Life shake up Mentor = business partner = a business I left = the important life decisions I made to share my word for the world through my legacy intentions while travelling the world
With grasp of my legacy intentions I soon realized my entrepreneurial lifestyle was not a one-person endeavor. Whether hiring staff or working with associates, joint ventures and/or in partnerships, other people were involved.
With one longer-term business relationship over ten years, we had in our hands on what I referred to as a billion dollar company. We convinced investors to help out. We hired staff. We moved forward with the understanding we were going to help millions of people all around the world.
And then … my business partner took exception to a request I made and decided he wanted the company back. At the end of this day, after much debate, I decided it was better to move on. So I did.
At the time I did not see my business partner as a mentor. Yet, taking the best from the situation I realize he gave me a great gift in sharing his perspective.
He gave me the insight of shining light on what really mattered to me.
2010s … Reflection On
So what, now what, what else? = making it so, so IT is = my word for the world
In awakening what mattered, I realized small embers cast my light. Immediately, I reinvigorated my light to fulfill my life purpose and breath life into my legacy intentions that had collected dust.
Following this course my intuition blossomed which was confusing at times. My intuition kept whispering a life message. And, I kept putting it aside thinking my way along the path was correct.
And then – similar to my doctoral chair spinning – I looked around my home and realized:
When was the last time I opened one of the 1000s of books on my bookshelves?
Why do I have three bedrooms with two of them empty?
How long has it been since I drove my vehicle further than the supermarket within walking distance?
And so on …
In fall 2010 I took a dramatic leap of faith. Believing what I needed would appear I sold my house. I gave everything I owned away except for my life artefacts collected during my trips, my journals, and other creative expressions.
I rent and house sit for short periods of time mixed with travel .
In addition, I’m vehicle-less. Taxis and buses chauffeur me to my chosen destinations. And when I need quicker mobility for a day or week a rental car works great. The walking in between is a wonderful way to reflect on what I have and where I’m going, and provides excellent exercise.
Yes – there are days when I question my actions. However, those thoughts are fewer and farther between. Instead, I am filled with excitement of “making it so, so IT is.”
I’m making my life possible with the people I meet and the work I do. I’m writing, offering live workshops and mentoring, the activities I’ll carry on into my waning years that are certainly far from today. I see no need to retire - ever.
I am graciously evolving “so IT is.” The IT refers to I Transition. My self-concept grows as does my self-awareness and self-regulation.
I love myself with an occasional trip to the back of the woodshed for a personal chat where I’m always attentive.
All in all – I’m filled with magnificance. Which happens to be my word for the world. Magnificance combines magnificent and significance! In being me, I’m magnificent. In doing my work, I do so with significance. Therefore in balancing my being and doing, I’m having magnificance guide my LEARN * DECIDE * ACT.
In reading this article ...
In closing my story to date, I’m realizing the sage advice I’ve received. Much of it is attributed to my four mentors. The rest is filtering through the story of my life. And in the interest of brevity because I’m going for a walk, here is my gift to you:
There are seasons in every life and its how you Set Up, Step Forward, Stay Found, Share Wisdom and Shine Light that guide you in making it so, so IT is for you and everyone you touch.
Life is a series of nested events – like a Russian doll – through which you express your word for the world via your legacy intention(s). You contribute from the future unfolding all around you.
It’s how you leverage your remembrances of those nested events that guide you in why and how you LEARN * DECIDE * ACT in living your great life, creating the well-living workplace and co-creating the well-living world.
AND - serve as Co-Founder of the International Mentoring Community!
Make it a wellthy day. And remember, “Words really matter!”
PS - I'll return in 2020 and add the story of my 2010s mentors!
In Closing Mentoring Wisdom 4219 ...
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