Mentoring is like an old Buddhist proverb that goes something like this; “If you light a lamp for someone, it will also brighten your own path.” Mentoring in general, is the opportunity to meet and work side-by-side with, and perhaps become friends with an expert person in a specific field, and learn from them.
I’ve been very fortunate and am extremely grateful to have been mentored by a few of these gurus. They are three people that I tremendously respect, who are not only experts in their fields, but they are also my friends. I meet with them at different time intervals as schedules permit, but I try to meet monthly with each of them at the very least. These mentor relationships have changed my life in so many positive ways, and because of that, I’ve been propelled to a higher expectation from myself and my photography.
These wonderful friends all have different approaches to how they mentor me. I would describe one as a “guide” or accompanier/harvester. This one takes an active part in mentoring me side-by-side, and then we focus on awareness of what was learned. Mentor #2 is more like a “stimulator”. He escalates the learning and provokes me into a new way of seeing both through my lens and through photography in general. He also, when necessary, shows by example to make something more understandable. He can be tough too, but that’s OK, sometimes I need tough to help stimulate me. My #3 mentor is somewhat like a farmer that “sows” tidbits of life and art. This person freely shares knowledge and trusts that when the skill or shared lesson is needed, the teachings will be there to draw upon.
Recently when discussing my writing this blog topic with one of my mentor friends, I was challenged to write instead about being a mentor myself. This gave me pause to ponder, and that’s when I was struck with the realization that I too was becoming a mentor. Each time I meet with other photographer friends where I sincerely share and engage in conversations about photography life challenges, skills and talent, I am being a mentor with regards to the things I share with them. What has been shared with me I now am sharing with others. And that, is exactly the way mentoring is supposed to work. Could there be a greater gift than to be the giver or receiver of such unsolicited good will? This pay it forward philosophy has been rooted for a very long time, and many mentors believe that it’s much more joyful to give than receive!
Light and Love, Leslie
“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Buddha