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Mentoring easy as pie

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Charlotte Derby
  • Combined Air and Space Operations Center, Det 1, 609 Air Communications Squadron
We are often told we need to find a mentor or be a mentor. It seems to be the word of the day lately. But mentoring is not done well if it's just another thing you have to put on your "to do" list.

Of course, there are times when you will sit down with an Airman or another young person -- we do have a role in the community -- and advise on the ways of the Air Force and the world. This is important but is only a fraction of the picture.

To illustrate, I read a story many years ago that talked about 'Mama pie.' Every child has some of his or her 'Mama pie' filled by people other than Mother. Mama herself can't and shouldn't be the whole pie. Aunts, grandparents, friends, neighbors, etc., all help to fill in the pie and make us who we are.

Mentoring is the same. You may have a person you consider your mentor (just like you have a mom) but there are many others who provide mentoring along the way as well - even if they have no idea they're mentors. Our lives are examples for all to see.

When you stop to pick up that stray piece of trash or to help provide directions to a new arrival, you are adding to the pie. When you take a deep breath and explain, calmly and patiently, how a piece of equipment works, you are adding to the pie.

We add to people's lives even if we are not interacting with them directly. A mentoring session may be more like an interview with a one-way mirror - you may never know whose life you touch. It could be just sitting in the dining facility and listening, sharing your stories or listening to someone else's. It could be working hard, worrying where the spotlight is pointing, or it could be gently guiding another's behavior so he or she doesn't 'burn a bridge.' Just as this is a small Air Force, it's a small world as well. You are a mentor to someone, somewhere, whether you realize it or not. Be sure to be a good one, because we are all affected. Add to the pie.