Hope in the Mentoring Journey

Welcome to March! Last week, we gave you the first two of four things you can do as a mentor in 2020 to help your students grow into healthy adults. These four things are good reminders for us as we continue to come alongside students and seek to develop the “5 C” qualities that we introduced at the beginning of the year.

Before we share the last two things with you, here is a quick recap of the first two:

Be present in the places in your community where there is great need. As a mentor, you can be a consistent presence in a student’s life, and make a huge impact where there is often a great need for help, support, and encouragement.

Be an advocate for the youth in your school and community. As a mentor, you can help change the narrative surrounding today’s youth by helping them break negative stereotypes, and standing with them as they grow and develop into healthy adults.

And, now for the last two…

Be hopeful. One of the rallying cries for mentors in our community is, “Be the hope.” As mentors, we need to approach our role with hope, not just for the students we meet with, but for the schools and the communities we serve.

“If your (mentoring) is not rooted in a hope of something, if your work is not rooted in a hope of something, then you’ve got to reorient. Hope is essential. Hope is what gets you to stand up when other people say sit down. Hope is what gets you to speak when other people want you to be quiet. Your hope (as a mentor) is vital.”

excerpt from Bryan Stevenson speech at Williams College

In your role as a mentor, there will be days where it seems like your work is hopeless. And, it will be easy to give in to discouragement and doubt. But, don’t give up…be hopeful. Keep the big picture and a long-term perspective in mind as you mentor students. As mentors, don’t underestimate the power your perspective can have on both yourself and the student you are mentoring.

Be willing to be uncomfortable. For many of us, volunteering as a mentor may already be a big step out of our comfort zones. But, don’t let that stop you from taking more uncomfortable steps! If we want to make a lasting impact in the communities we live in, we need to be willing to sacrifice…to do things that aren’t convenient or comfortable. So, don’t be afraid of awkward conversations or learning something new with your student. Be willing to be uncomfortable if that’s what it takes to help your student grow into a healthy adult. Mentoring isn’t always easy, but it’s worth your time and sacrifice…and discomfort!

(Note: the content above has been adapted from a graduation speech given by Bryan Stevenson at Williams College in the spring of 2016)