1. a wise and trusted counselor or teacher.
2. an influential senior sponsor or supporter.
I have been thinking for weeks about how I should write about the topic of mentorship. The difficulty in writing is not WHAT to write about, but what NOT to write about. because I have had so many mentors in my life, and I think there are an innumerable number of countless aspects to discuss when it comes to mentorship to discuss.
Since I can’t tackle all aspects of mentorship in a single blog, I am taking this opportunity to brag on one great mentor I have had in the officiating world. I am sure he knows that I respect him, consider him a friend and value his opinion, but I am not sure I have ever told him what a valuable mentor he is to me.
Not all mentors have to be defined as such, btw!
This guy—let’s call him Dr. Bob—was one of the first commissioners to hire me to work high school basketball, both girls and boys games. Similarly to when I was a high school basketball player, the men’s basketball coaches generally felt that women officials were inferior and couldn’t keep up with the boys’ game. So it was a tough situation for a beginning referee…especially when you weren’t very good (like me at that time).
Since I loved the game, was very athletic, kept the pace, and was generally liked as a person, Dr. Bob went ahead and gave me a shot. He put me on games with partners who knew the rules much better then I and who had a lot more experience then I. And he expected these veteran officials to teach me.
This was a mentor moment I didn’t know was happening at the time.
Over the years, I have worked Dr. Bob’s junior high, high school, small college and even playoff assignments. And now, more than 15 years after he first assigned me, I work games at a higher level then he has personally ever officiated or assigned. And all along the way, Dr. Bob has given me advice, praise, criticism and opportunities. He has helped me reinvent myself for each level (reference all the prior posts on reinventing yourself). Dr. Bob has been my first call almost every time I have advanced or accomplished a particular milestone in my career. I love how proud he is when I tell him!
Mentors are always proud of your successes and are NOT afraid to tell you.
Most recently, Dr. Bob has asked me to mentor younger officials for him. (omg I was so honored to be asked!). I am most proud because I believe I have fully “arrived” in Dr. Bob’s eyes. This is where I now must strive to be as good a mentor as he was (and still is) to me.
In a commitment to become that mentor, I have created a list of five attributes I saw in Dr. Bob as a mentor that I want to make sure I mirror:
- Always know your place in the big picture of officiating (or any organization), never confusing the pecking order of status, popularity or hiring klout.
- Proactively look for opportunities for the staff, protégés and friends in the business.
- Surround yourself with good people—people of great character—and have their back 100%.
- Be an active listener, fully engaged when talking to the protégé.
- Ask tough questions with diplomacy and tact, and show an honest interest in their opinion.
I would love to hear attributes that you admire from your mentor. I welcome your comments.