Great mentors are participative partners. And, Ray Bell, my greatest mentor, was such a partner. The words: “How ‘bout going and getting the tractor and park it in the barn?” were powerful music to my ears when I was a ten-year old growing up on a farm. It was Daddy’s way of nudging along my maturity. To get the very special privilege of starting, driving and parking a large expensive tractor communicated trust and respect. His gesture also left me feeling thrilled…and tall.
The tractor-parking incident was more than a badge of being “grown up.” It was a symbol of partnership—I obviously relied on Daddy, but at that moment, he trusted me enough to return that dependence.
Great mentors perpetually seek ways to include…to partner. They would rather facilitate than lecture; they enjoy great questions more than smart answers. Daddy joined in the pursuit, offering guidance not expertness. He seemed to always know that participation was the route to discovery and insight, all important building blocks for significant learning.