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Mentor: Do You Have One? Are You One?

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Harley Davis
  • 451st AEW Public Affairs
When you first hear the word "mentor," what comes to mind?

Several years ago, I heard that word used. As an Airman First Class, I had no idea what that was. There was a master sergeant giving a briefing who asked the question, "Who has a Mentor?" As I looked around the room, I noticed no hands went up. My first thought was, "What is the master sergeant talking about?" I leaned over and asked another Airman, "Do you have any idea?" I received that blank look. The sergeant went on to explain what a mentor was. If this is also something new to you, do as I did.

After the sergeant's briefing, I decided to found out more about a mentor. The first stop I made was to my supervisor. My supervisor told me to research what a mentor was and come back. Here's what I discovered: a mentor can be defined as a role model, one who supports, guides, and invests in the personal and professional growth of the mentee. Back then, I thought my supervisor just didn't want to help me. I didn't realize it, but my supervisor was instilling a valuable lesson in me. Years later, I finally understood what she was trying to teach.

If every answer is given to you, then you'll never take the time to do the research.

Let me tell you, the significance of a mentor is monumental. A mentor is a valuable asset to have in your professional and personal life. A mentor will be familiar enough to where a mentee feels comfortable sharing questions, fears, or ever issues. A mentor is only looking to pour into your life and profession. A mentor is someone you can trust and value what he or she tells you. A mentor will take the time to help build confidence in handling new situations and enhance your self-esteem. I believe I'm where I am today because of the guidance of past and present mentors.

When I first became a mentor, I took the time to learn about who that person was. I wanted them to know I cared. For me, the best way to accomplish that was by spending time with them. The approach I used doesn't mean it's the approach for you. Just remember, a mentor doesn't necessarily require any formal training or education. It just depends on the situation and your willingness.

Mentoring is an on-going process. Mentoring is something everyone can use. A mentor can be your supervisor, first sergeant, commander, or whomever you like. If you don't have a mentor, I recommend you seek a mentor. If you're not a mentor, think about becoming one today. I firmly believe it's never too late to become a mentor. Take the time and pass your knowledge and experience along.

Professionally, I would not be who I am today had it not been for my past mentors. I believe all of us can have a positive effect on somebody. So, I ask you again, "Do You Have One or Are You One?"