So here we are. A new school year. New clothes. New books. New gadgets, but most kids are walking in with exactly the same old labels. No. Not Calvin K. I'm talking about: ADHD; Depression; Anxiety, Slacker, Stoner etc. As a Mentor's Mentor of Millenials I have a few suggestions to transform this year but...
First, let's start with a quick pair of definitions:
Mentor; one who guides his/her charge.
Telemachus: one who seeks the help of a Mentor to make their way "out there".
I have worked with countless young people who have made great changes for the better in their lives. Changes where they were responsible for their successful outcome. These successes are now part of who they are and how they see themselves and shall help guide them in whatever endeavors they take on in life. This is the most rewarding work I have ever done in my life and I consider it an honor to work with these people, following their leads, turning them out of the occasional dead ends and sharing in their joys, their quiet accomplishments and the lessons they learn from their failures.
Most systems of "repair" seem to be focused on the symptoms. They use the deficiencies to define the whole of the person. Statements such as: "I'm ADHD". Hello, my name is Skeeter and I'm a stoner." "I'm such a (fill in the blank)" ring throughout the school hallways.
To those who spend so much time on their symptoms, I would suggest you reflect on the following: We amplify what we focus on, in word, thought and action. The more frequently we are defining ourselves by what we lack, the more we allow our inner thoughts to validate those beliefs in our million micro-decisions of the day.
We cannot underestimate the amount of people who are in denial about their personal foibles. I am not suggesting self-delusion as a the road to success. I encourage you to (and by extension those you mentor) to "own" their challenges as well as their strengths, but please do not let yourself be defined by them.
Every young person I have ever met has the ability to be successful in every aspect of their lives, even school ☺ That may seem like a bold statement but the truth is, evolutionarily speaking, if you are alive, then you are doing something right. But to move forward, the Telemachus must find their own personal way towards success.
Mentors; know this! Each Telemachus has in them the seeds for success and the challenge is to find the proper system for that particular person. What you need to bring to this system and how you can determine when your "Telemachus" is ready for your mentoring.
A questions to all parents: Who knows your child better than you do? They do. They may not "know" it or share all of it with you but your understanding of your child is based on history. More than likely, theirs is about right now and tomorrow. The past is often the same place where broken toys reside. Rich and meaningful at one time, but now it is mainly of use for stubbing toes and tripping us up.
Secondly, to the Mentor:
It is in the future and the now that one must re-learn about your Telemachus.
You, the Mentor must bring an open mind, humility and the presence of mind to NOT JUDGE.
Finally: To the Telemachus. You are not your label(s). Not the ones your parents gave you, the ones "professionals" gave you, the ones teachers or peers gave you nor the ones you give yourself when you feel lost.
Live each moment as a new creation. Learn from the past and set a course for a new future. This is the job your Mentor should join you in but remember, it is YOU who must be in command. Use your courage to venture forth, your wisdom to assess, your determination to soldier on in the face of setbacks and your faith to learn from those around you.
Now go out there and kick some butt!