MTI Collective Responses: How have mentors impacted you?


“How have mentors played a role in your professional and personal lives? Any anecdotes of positive and/or negative impacts?”


"My father passed away when I was young and I was lucky to have an uncle who loved me very much and was a father figure and mentor. All throughout my teens and early twenties I used him as a sounding board for advice and learned lessons. I loved his sense of humor. He used to jokingly give me a hard time when I would report back an accomplishment in my military career by saying things like "Well, the sun shines on a dog's ass every once in a while". We'd both have a good laugh but I knew he was proud of me. He kept me humble with his zingers. Aside from all the personal life lessons, he would help me approach my military challenges as an outsider looking in and always with a practical solution. He himself never served but I appreciated his human view of what is somewhat an unknown, a black box, to most civilians. He would remind me that every problem can be solved even if it means starting over from scratch, everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time, and whether it's an NCO, SNCO, or Officer they're still flesh and blood. His advice carried me through my first decade or so as an adult before it started to lose its luster. Looking back on it now I understand why. The military sent me all over the world meeting so many different people and doing things I never would have imagined as a child. I learned a lot about a lot. My uncle, a scholar and expert in our shared blue collar background, simply didn't have the same gravity as what the world taught me as an older man. My uncle was a hero to me. I will always love him and be thankful for his wisdom, but once I grew up and moved on from that period of my life it slowly strained our relationship. His advice, while very helpful and beneficial to me as a young enlisted Airman, became too general to be useful once I began to move into higher echelons of leadership that required finer degrees of knowledge and finesse. Mentors must stay relevant to continue making positive impacts."
"As an active duty Marine officer I have found that my seniors often fail to realize that career officers need mentors too. The life of an officer can be a lonely one. However, a few years ago I deployed to Operation INHERENT RESOLVE and met a man far senior to me in grade and time in service who I wanted as a mentor, and he gladly offered his time to mentor me personally and professionally. Even when I didn't ask for it, he kept me in mind and reached out with opportunities he could "shape" to get me into a position where he thought I would excel and a position I would like. I didn't always take them, but it was nice to know someone was looking out for me in the Service even though we weren't serving in the same unit, but are in the same occupational field. He will retire in the coming months after nearly four decades of service. I will continue to reach out to him whenever I can and whenever I am in need of sage advice. The bottom line: He was a true father figure I could rely on to ask "Work Dad, how do I..." and I love him like a son loves a father. "
"Three. Two were amazing in everything from guidance to the implementation of chaos. One was a very negative, cynical and often abusive person. Still able to get direction where not to go, what not to do. All played a huge part in my crucial life experiences."
"Mentors played a critical role after basic job training was completed. Once assigned to a particular section, unit or division having that mentor to ask the finite questions and the reasons why a particular thing is done and done a certain way is instrumental in professional growth. "
"My mentors have been crucial for my formation as mountain guide and teacher. They guided me in order to let me know when I can do a more dificult route and to train for a project "
"Yes. I have mentored others and I have been mentored. As someone who serves his community as a police officer, I believe it is important to have at least two mentors: one in the profession and one outside of the profession. While it is important to connect with and learn from someone with significant experience and success in being a servant police officer itself and with promotional opportunities and processes, it is also incumbent on me to seek out a mentor who is not a police officer to provide a different perspective. It is easy to become jaded and develop an "us-vs-them" mentality in law enforcement, especially since 2020. However, I know that I need a mentor who can share a different perspective and thought process. This differing perspective helps to stop the potential of wrong thinking and wrong attitude. As both a mentor and mentee, I have learned that it is an imperative that the mentor has been given express permission by the mentee to be truthful in all things. If the mentor thinks or believe that the mentee will get upset with candid conversations, especially when it comes to failures and learning opportunities, and hold it against the mentor, then the mentor will be hesitant to be truthful and extremely reluctant to have courageous conversations. Many times, it is the failures, challenges, and subsequent courageous conversations with the mentor and with ourselves that we experience the most personal and professional growth."
"I have never had a mentor, had to figure everything out for myself. When I was in the army I had poor leadership and no one to look up to, which is a huge part of why I didn't reenlist."
"The Positive: SGM Jack H. I first noticed Jack in the late 90s at JBLM, only because I thought he looked ridiculous. He wore his military beret like the French. The flash laid back against the top of his head, and the headgear sloped to the rear. He had a gait that resembled a sine wave and an ever present ear to ear tooth filled grin. Jack always looked like he was moving in slow motion, particularly when he was flying by you on a run, outpacing all the other Jumpmasters doing JMPI or assembling a complex piece of kit far faster than you could imagine. Of the many things I learned from him, it was slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. His most unique quality, however, was the depth of his humility. He always encouraged, and would never condescend. Jack would interrupt your tasks to show you a better way, because he made you feel like an integral part of the team. If you got better, the team was better. The Negative: I always referred to these as 'Guardrails.' If I ever started conducting myself or completing tasks like that guy, it was time to check course and move back into my lane. Although toxic to teams and culture, they serve a key purpose. A Guardrail provides the benchmark for what a man is not, what a leader is not, what a teammate is not. I had four key ones throughout my professional career. The TDY fraudsters, thieves, adulterers, the work ghosts, the incompetent yet arrogant, combat zone tax free tourists... the list goes on. No matter how bad things got, we could always pause and think "Yeah. This sucks. But I won't get up tomorrow, look in the mirror and see that. Things are okay." 
"0, I have had no mentors "
"Enormous role. Most credit goes to them "

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