apo · healthyliving

Bigs and Littles and Mentors, OH MY!

Good morning, everyone!

Today started off by waking up to a few emails from some co-workers letting me know that my email sent them spam again.  Oh the joys of technology!  A nice mug of coffee and a delicious smoothie were the ticket to picking my mood right back up!

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Yummy yum yum!  In my smoothie went a banana, a few frozen strawberries, two cranberry juice ice cubes, some About Time vanilla protein powder, and enough water to get everything moving.  A tart and tasty way to start the day!

I really needed a second cup of coffee to get my head in the game.  Late nights have never really been my thing, but they’re usually worthwhile!  Last night was one of those times because I was able to pop into my home chapter’s Big Brother/Little Brother reveal.  For those of you not used to those terms, a Big Brother/Little Brother program helps the newer member become a knowledgeable member of the fraternity.  The newer member is paired with an older member to guide them as they learn about the history, purpose, and expectations as well as provide them with someone to feel connected within the group.

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Being a big brother, as cheesy as it may seem, also is an opportunity to become a better mentor.

I know what some of you are thinking.  How does being a “BIG” help me (or someone else) understand what it takes to mentor someone in the professional world?

Here’s how:

  • You’re reminded how important it is that you are always a good role model, because “monkey-see, monkey-do” is not fiction.  It is important to always keep in mind that others learn from you and look up to you, even if you may not know it.
  • You learn that your advice matters.  We take much advice from near-peers, those close to us in age.   You may be considered young in the real world, but your experience has value.  One of my Little Brothers is older than me in age, but joined the organization after I did.  My experiences and how I handled situations mattered to her; and she used that advice to grow as a member of the organization.
  • You see the importance of investing in others, because others have invested in you.  When I see my Little Brother standing in front of chapter as an elected officer, it makes me think that maybe I did or said something that helped her get to this point.  I know that my Big Brother was instrumental in encouraging me to think bigger and to have more confidence in my abilities to lead in our chapter.  This confidence is what I have grown upon as I’ve started my career.  If no one had confidence or supported me then, I know I wouldn’t be where I am today.
  • As a mentor, you also learn how to be a good mentee.  All of the times my Little Brothers have celebrated my successes, cheered me up when I’ve been struggling, and shown appreciation for something I helped them with have been good examples of how I can best treat my mentor.  All of those little cutesy or thank-you notes?  I still have them.  When was the last time you showed your appreciation and sent your mentor a handwritten thank-you note?  It goes a long way.
  • You are reminded that you aren’t perfect, we are ALL always growing and there is always room for improvement.  When you pair someone with more experience with a newer individual, you create a unique blend of skills, knowledge, and experience that benefits both the mentor and mentee.  You have the unique opportunity to learn from each other.
  • You develop better skills to listen, have patience, be compassionate, be open-minded, and be committed.  These are just good qualities of human beings in life, but are especially important in a mentor/mentee relationship.  Commitment to growth of people is a servant leadership quality that sums up being a Big.  You are committed to helping that other person become the best they can be.  I am committed to the relationship I have with all of my Littles and being there for them in any way I can.  You [likely] won’t have a good relationship unless you genuinely SHOW them this through your actions and behaviors.

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Being a Big Brother, a mentor, is an amazing experience.  Seeing your mentees, my Littles, succeed, grow, and become a mentor to someone else is more rewarding than I ever imagined it could be.  Yes, a Big Brother/Little Brother relationship has a little more to it than just mentorship, but the lessons I’ve learned about being a mentor by being a Big Brother will extend beyond the world of Alpha Phi Omega.  These lessons have been highly valuable and I use them daily.

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WOW!  That post got much more in-depth than I thought I would be, but I think understand what it takes to be a good mentor/mentee is incredibly important.  I’ve been lucky to have mentors in several capacities: school, work, fitness, and the like.  I wouldn’t be the person I am today, where I am, or doing what I’m doing without the support and guidance of my mentors.

What do you think is an important quality for a mentor to have?

What is one of the most important things YOU have learned from a mentor?

As a mentor, what have you learned about being a good mentee?

Until next time!

-T

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