What is mentorship?

Posted on 7/27/21

What is mentorship?

What is mentorship? Merriam-Webster defines mentorship as the influence, guidance, or direction given by a mentor.

Admittedly, I always looked at mentorship as a top-down approach to grooming or guiding a younger person. It wasn’t until recently (maybe the last few years) that I realized that mentorship is sort of a spherical or three-dimensional tool. Mentorship can happen in all directions. Top-down, bottom-up, laterally (side to side).

With that said, I like to share personal examples when discussing lifestyle topics, like this one. I find that personal examples help others relate to their own experiences.

I recently met a young man from the dojo who was MUCH younger than me. We trained together occasionally as partners during class, but we were never each other’s “go to” partner. As with most training sessions, I typically try to get to know my partners beyond the mat. Turns out, this guy shared several common interests as me, and as we learned more about each other, our conversations expanded. We bounced ideas, questions, and experiences off one another. We built rapport and trust with each other. Over time, I realized he was teaching me several life lessons that turned out to be very helpful – mainly from a mental fortitude and life perspective point of view. In turn, he also sought out advice from me about my own experiences in certain areas. This was fulfilling for me! This relationship experience solidified the idea that mentorship is NOT just a top-down approach, and that I needed to open my mind a bit more to what I thought I had already knew.

I bring this up because we hear Professor Jeff talk about the whole person concept in jiu jitsu. Meaning, we can’t just be good jiu jitsu players. We have to be more than that. Good people. Good leaders. Good MENTORS! I’ll leave you with these questions. Who are you mentoring, and who is your mentor? Are you allowing yourself to be mentored from the bottom up? By someone younger than you?

See you on the mats! Oss!

Jeff Messina

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