Friday, July 12, 2013

Why I Became a Mentor: Paul M. Gozzo

Why I became a mentor: Paul M. Gozzo

It took me over a decade to realize just how enormous the hole was left in my life after my father passed. When I finally came to grips with his passing, I became even more thankful for all the time I did have with my Dad. At one point I wondered, what is it like for a kid who never really has had a Dad? If I had a hole left in my heart when my father passed, what does that young man have in his heart, the kid who never actually had a Dad around?

I then began to think about how I could reach out and help fatherless kids. Before I became a mentor, I had always thought that a mentor was someone that you looked up to. Someone that the mentee picked and it was usually reserved for an older person in the same field, like the same sport, or the same instrument. And while this may be true, I later learned there is plenty of need for mentors in life and the first key to being a good mentor is just simply first by being there and present, then simply by being real and leading by example.

Spending time with a kid is about consistency and honesty, not always preaching and teaching. They are watching you and learning from you. Simply being present is often a big help and for the kid without his Dad around, that kid is in void of the many valuable learning experiences that boys receive from their old man. It is natural and you will know, if you serve as a volunteer with the youth, when a kid is drawn to you. He will seek you out and want to hang out with you. Then it is on and it is up to you to be consistent, real, and therefore honest through your actions.

Sure, you can draw from the mistakes you have made in life and “teach” that child. But really, words are words and talk is cheap. By example is the way to go. For example, when that kid sees you go out of your way to open the door for a female, or pick-up after yourself when you are through with a meal, he is seeing and learning live, in real time. Talking or preaching about mistakes is not as affective.
Getting to the point that you can influence young kids positively as a mentor takes time. You must be consistent and show up at the events that you sign up for. You must take time to listen and not always offer advice. You must simply be yourself and they will eventually be drawn to you as a friend/mentor and you will know it is time to lead by example when that kid begins to seek you out. But you are not his friend, you his mentor, and one that leads by example. You can share that you do not have all the answers, but you do have experience. And you will find that most of the time, simply being present and listening is enough to have a breakthrough.

I encourage those who read this and have an inclination, to seek out ways you can become a mentor in your community. You can find the time. You absolutely can find the time. We are all “busy”, so you are not alone there.  If you had a great relationship with your father, or if you had none at all, you might be able to help the next generation and in doing so, you may just help yourself in the process. Good luck!

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