Mentorship Keys: Trust and Continuity
We are happy to present the fifth in our series of guest blogs
The bloggers will be giving you a glimpse into their personal mentor/mentee experiences. Some spotlighted relationships may have grown into deep personal friendships, while others might be purely business in nature–mentees observing their mentor at work. No matter the depth of the relationship, mentees will testify to the importance of their mentors. Guest blog posts will appear, sporadically, but always on a Tuesday.
Theodore B. Williams III is a Senior at Louisiana State University, graduating in May 2012 with a Bachelors of Arts degree in English. He is an influential student leader, having served in the Executive and Legislative branches of LSU Student Government and currently as the Chairman of the Union Governing Board. He is a talented writer and public speaker with personal and professional interests in philanthropy, fundraising, higher education and overall educational advocacy.
From the first moment I stood beneath the stately oaks of Louisiana State University as a prospective student, I set lofty goals for myself. I desired to be more than just another student at a large university. I wanted to be an influential leader. It was no surprise, then, that I began my journey as an involved student my first week on campus. During one of the first student-organization meetings I attended, I distinctly remember two upperclassmen dressed in business casual. They were officers in the organization and, it was evident they held the respect of their peers. As I continued to attend the meetings of their organization, I found myself interacting with these two upperclassmen more and more. It was not long until both of them pulled me aside, took me under their wings and began to impart their collegiate wisdom on me.
These men would become two of my most insightful mentors during my college career. Many people think of mentors in three separated factions: professional, social and academic. Yet, these two peer mentors were a combination of all three. They kept up with my grades to ensure that I was making proper academic progress. They accepted me as a part of their social circle, which would allow me to gain new, long-term friendships. And lastly, they taught me the art of professionalism. While these two upperclassmen did not know everything about everything, they were able to provide me one of the most vital lessons in my college career: You can learn from others instead of experiences. They were able to help me avoid issues and setbacks they experienced during their first two years as undergraduates.
Even though I used my relationships these two peers as examples of mentorship, there have been a number of people who have served as mentors in my life. Each time I set a new goal for myself, I was sure to find a mentor who would be able to guide me in the right direction from step one of my journey. The key to these relationships has been trust and continuity. You can only truly share your desires, goals, strengths and weaknesses with someone you come to trust, and the mentor-mentee relationship is extremely powerful when it continues for long period of time.
The most common misconception about true mentoring is that the mentee simply gains knowledge from the mentor, goes on to succeed, thanks his or her mentor and lives happily ever after. A true mentoring relationship builds further mentoring relationships. That is to say that a person who has benefitted from a passionate, caring mentor should pay it forward by mentoring someone else.
Today, most of my numerous mentors have continued on with their lives after college by pursuing advanced degrees, beginning careers and relocating around the nation. Yet, I continue to seek and gain advice from these mentors, due to the strength of our trust, the longevity of our relationships and the results of what they have assisted me in achieving. And every chance I get, I mentor a fellow peer who needs guidance. I may not have all the answers for them, but I realize that my mentors are not perfect, either. They simply hold a passion to help others become better people and reach their potential. Seeing all they have done for me, it is only right that I share that passion with someone else.