Mentors and mentoring

The dictionary definition of a mentor is “a wise and trusted guide and adviser.”


St. LOUIS, Missouri, October 5, 2015 –  A wonderful way to pass on one’s wisdom is to serve as a mentor.

The dictionary definition of a mentor is “a wise and trusted guide and adviser.”

How does one earn the title of mentor? The answer is by living life and having experience in the area of interest for the one being mentored.

As a child I had many mentors. My grandmother was my mentor as it related to being a Christian. She not only preached the Gospel to me but also was a mentor by example.

My grandfather was my mentor as it related to developing a work ethic. His mentoring was more demanding, as evidenced by questions like, “Did you cut the wood and fill the wood box?” However, he set an example by being a hard worker himself and a person of his word.

As I remember, I never questioned his direction, for he earned the right to be a mentor.

Another of my mentors was my football coach, who taught me the value of teamwork and personal sacrifice. The good running backs were taught to respect their linemen and blockers.

You may have experienced teamwork by being in a school play, working on the school paper or working on an assignment in a study group. In these cases, the teacher served as your mentor.

In discussions with fellow seniors, it is not unusual for individuals to talk about teachers who had mentored them. What a compliment it is to the teaching profession!

Several years ago I re-entered the work force due to a universal market demand for a specific set of skills that I possessed. The demand for people with this set of skills was so great that the marketplace could not provide the trained personnel.

This required the corporations to hire personnel with technical knowledge who could be further trained in other specialties. This is just one example of mentoring in the workplace.

Whether you are just starting on your career path or are an established professional, there are times when unbiased advice from a seasoned professional can help guide you toward your goals.

Mentors provide support, counsel, friendship and guidance.

Mentors benefit from the relationship as well. I had the privilege of associating with a number of brilliant young people. I also took pride in knowing I was following in the footsteps of those great mentors who had taken time to work with me.

Seniors, with a lifetime of experience, are qualified to be mentors to the younger members of our family or friends. They need to be alert to opportunities to influence and educate the young and inexperienced. By being good listeners and putting ourselves in their place for specific situations, they can offer alternative solutions to whatever problems they face.

Seniors are not the only great mentors. Young people with specific experience and knowledge can also mentor others.

At one point in my career I was asked by a young person why I seemed to know the right answers in approaching a problem. My answer was “during my career I have screwed so many things up and as a result I have learned what to do and not.” The young person understood.

My first mentor was 1st class Petty Officer Sam. I was placed at a Naval Headquarters to learn punch cards which was the current technology.

They sent me to an IBM school for a half day followed by going back to the Machine Accounting Department on the base.

This was way over my head in trying to learn this strange equipment and on how to wire boards to make the machines perform their functions.  I was afraid that I would flunk out, but along came Sam who took me under his wing and was a great teacher and helped me learn punch cards.

Every once and a while I think of Sam as maybe God sent him to help. My fifty four career was built on Sam’s help.

I truly was blessed to have so many great mentors in my life.

However, that’s from a time and place I am from-

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Charles Vandegriff, Sr.
Charles is a fifty-four-year career in technology retiring at the directors level from three major corporations. Followed by three-plus years as a free-lance columnist, published three books, over three hundred speeches to senior organizations, radio interviews, one television commercial and finally married for sixty-five years, four children, seven grandchildren and thirteen great grand children. Charles is also a Navy veteran.