So why InSpire? And why do we mentor?
The English word spirit comes from the Latin spiritus, meaning “breath”, but also “spirit, soul, courage, vigor”. It is distinguished from Latin anima, “soul” (which derives from the root meaning “to breathe”). In Greek, this distinction exists between, “breath, motile air, spirit,” and “soul”. The word “spirit” came into Middle English via Old French. The distinction between soul and spirit also developed in the Abrahamic religions.
In Greek mythology, Mentor, in his old age, was a friend of Odysseus who placed Mentor and Odysseus’ in charge of his son Telemachus, and of Odysseus’ palace, when Odysseus left for the Trojan War.
When Athena visited Telemachus she took the disguise of Mentor to hide herself from the suitors of Telemachus’ mother Penelope. As Mentor, the goddess encouraged Telemachus to stand up against the suitors and go abroad to find out what happened to his father. When Odysseus returned to Ithaca, Athena appeared briefly in the form of Mentor again at Odysseus’ palace.
Because of Mentor’s relationship with Telemachus, and the disguised Athena’s encouragement and practical plans for dealing with personal dilemmas, the personal name Mentor has been adopted in English as a term meaning someone who imparts wisdom and shares knowledge.
Mentorship, the basis of InSpire, is a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. However, true mentoring is more than just answering occasional questions or providing occasional help. It is about an ongoing relationship of learning, dialogue, and challenge.
The focus of mentoring is to develop the whole person and so the techniques are broad but generally include.
- Accompanying: making a commitment in a caring way, which involves taking part in the learning process side-by-side with the learner.
- Sowing: mentors are often confronted with the difficulty of preparing the learner before he or she is ready to change. Sowing is necessary when you know that what you say may not be understood or even acceptable to learners at first but will make sense and have value to the mentee when the situation requires it.
- Catalyzing: when change reaches a critical level of pressure, the mentor chooses to plunge the learner right into change, provoking a different way of thinking, a change in identity or a re-ordering of values.
- Showing: this is making something understandable, or using your own example to demonstrate a skill or activity. You show what you are talking about, you show by your own behavior.
- Harvesting: here the mentor focuses on “picking the ripe fruit”: it is usually used to create awareness of what was learned by experience and to draw conclusions. The key questions here are:” What have you learned?”, “How useful is it?”.