A New Way of Mentoring

I often wonder if we haven’t made mentoring something far too difficult for most people.

When most people think of mentoring I believe they think of finding someone younger than them, who needs guidance, meeting with them for serious conversations over a long period of time, until they grow up.

You might say that this picture of mentoring isn’t how most people view it, but it probably isn’t far off.

And this picture, if true, is an extremely intimidating one. How many people actually think they have a lot to offer others? Not many. How many people want to sit down and have serious conversations week after week with the same person? Not many.

So maybe we’ve made this whole mentoring thing a little bit too complicated.

I saw a great artice in Portland Monthly about mentoring for baristas (coffee is big in Portland if you didn’t know). Here is how this barista mentoring program is described (read the whole article here):

For most of us, coffee is simply a tool for paddle-shocking our brains every morning, but for a few of Portland’s 1,000 or so homeless youth, it’s a way to jump-start a career…The arrangement is simple, explains Sarah Dougher, a veteran P:ear staffer: Caffé Vita donates the coffee, equipment, and instruction while P:ear provides the space…P:ear’s eight-week-long program begins with a survey of coffees from around the world. Then students learn the intricacies of brewing coffees and espressos in the school’s tricked-out coffee cart…After graduation, alumni intern at local hot spots like Broder Cafe on SE Clinton Street to garner real-world experience and work references. ‘Being a barista should not be these kids’ last job,’ Dougher says. ‘But it can be their first.‘” (emphasis mine)

I absolutely love this. Part of me loves it because it is changing lives. Part of me loves it because of how simple and practical it is.

Too often we become intimidated about mentoring always being serious conversations (especially guys), but this program is an example of how mentoring can be accessible for anyone.

Maybe we need a new way of mentoring.

(Image: Mattox)