Being a Great Mentor | #MyFridayStory №276

Frans Nel
4 min readJan 26, 2023
Vlad Chețan | Pexels

There’s so much confusion and so many myths about mentoring.

I recently achieved the golden age of 60. That alone should qualify me to judge the understanding of mentoring. Rather, my assessment is based on having been expertly mentored from birth until today. As a mentee under the mentorship of the finest mentors in history, I’ve received their expert skills and talents my whole life.

My Mom was a key mentor until she died in 2018, aged 92. As the last born out of 4 kids, I was her favourite. I don’t have another answer for why she and I were so close, I’m just thankful. Not that my siblings were ignored or anything like that, they each had their own special relationship with her. My Mom’s love was boundless.

Our friendship was intimate, beyond the conscious. Her whole life, she devoted our time together to preparing me for my future.

My older Brother by 11 years, took it upon himself to make me his prodigy. As if sent by God, he was an intellectual with a desire to share his knowledge. I was a perfect subject, soaking up all he would share. His interests and passions included aeronautics, psychology, astronomy, history, science, physics, geometry, art, music, and ancient Biblical history, to name a few. He had degrees in Hebrew, ancient Greek and theology. He had a “photographic” memory — he could speedread a full page in 3 or 4 seconds and repeat it almost verbatim. He never stopped nudging me in the right direction and cheering me on throughout my life. He passed away 2 years after my Mom.

A morally balanced, socially skilled, kind and loving big brother. He devoted our time together to preparing me for my future.

Over 20 years ago — as with my Mom and my Brother — someone took a bet on me for reasons I still can’t comprehend. Our CEO asked him to assist with our company strategy. He sat in on a few sessions we conducted with our executive team. Afterwards, he shared his views on a possible way forward. My CEO asked me to walk our guest out when the session ended. Walking down the passage he looked over to me, smiled and said,

“So, you’re the energy around here!”

He’s still a best friend and mentor today. His guidance in areas ranging from careers to relationships is lifesaving. He has doled out so many pearls and gems over the years, I’ve soaked them up.

Here’s an example of the sage-like wisdom of a great mentor.

Some years after that first encounter in our company boardroom, I again turned to him for some advice. I needed to know how to ask my CEO for a fair year-end bonus and annual increase. Over the past few years, I’d been overlooked and side-lined and wanted to address the issue. I didn’t know how to go about making sure it ended in my favour.

I listened carefully to grasp every nuance as he explained the procedure I should follow. Here’s what I did.

I typed my CEO a letter and sealed it in an envelope. Written in a conversational style, it outlined why I should be considered for a reasonable year-end bonus and annual increase. Then I invited him for lunch, saying I’d like to have a chat about something. Once seated, I placed the sealed envelope on the table. After our drinks order arrived, I explained why I’m due a fair year-end bonus and annual increase. I told him not to answer me now, but to take some time to think it over. And, as a reminder, here’s a letter outlining what I said.

That evening, my CEO called me and said he agreed, I am worthy and due a fair bonus and increase. He asked me to give a number I thought would be fair. When I said how much, he said he had the same numbers in mind. That year, I got the largest bonus and increase in my career.

Many of the life events I’ve experienced — graduations and dropping out, changing careers and crashing in a career, falling in love and going through a divorce, buying a house and going bankrupt, starting a business and failing in a business, a new grandchild and losing someone I love, the many times I’ve fallen and found my feet again, through it all, fighting my way up — it’s thanks to great mentors for helping me and preparing me for my future.

Have an awesome weekend and please be generous! 😄

As always, thanks for reading 🙏

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