By Andy Gibbons
Apr 21, 2016

Assess Your Own Progress As A Mentor

This is part 7 of a 12-part blog series that explores mentoring skills and principles for adults serving teacher and priest-age boys (14-18):

The remaining posts will appear weekly.

Principle #7: Assess Your Own Progress as a Mentor

How many different ways can you grow as a mentor? What kinds of goals for personal development could you pursue? If you are strongly committed to your own growth, you will probably also be committed to the growth of your youth.

Goals for personal improvement are your targets, if you want to progress as a mentor. The question is, what goals are most worthwhile? How can you best change and learn so that you will be better prepared as a mentor?

Diagnose where you are

alice23aWhen the Cheshire Cat talked to Alice, he said she had to decide where she was going first, or it wouldn’t make any difference where she went. The Cat forgot to mention that Alice also needed to know where she was at the moment. You don’t put confidence in a doctor who prescribes without some testing first. Neither will you be able to choose goals to work for until you figure out where you are now.

Where are you today in your mentoring skills and attitudes? Take stock through reflection. Ask yourself:

  • How much success am I having?
  • Where do things go wrong?
  • Where are things going right?
  • Are there things I know I could do better?

Consider some of the areas you might need to improve:

  • How is my attitude toward the boy(s) I work with?
    • Do I like them?
    • Am I too critical?
    • Am I judging them fairly?
    • Am I getting to know them better?
    • Am I being positive?
    • Do I keep a positive image of them in my mind?
  • What is my level of motivation?
    • Do I grump about my assignment?
    • Am I negative with other people when I talk about it?
    • Do I keep reminding myself about how long I have been serving?
    • Do I count the days until I will be finished

These are not good signs. On the other hand:

  • varsity-scout-biking-E12UCA50B-200x112Am I having fun when I am at activities with the team?
  • Do I find myself imagining fun new things to do?
  • Am I looking forward to the next team activity?

These are good indicators.

  • What is the level of my mentoring skills?
    • How good am I at giving feedback after an activity?
    • How good am I at influencing decisions when that is needed?
    • How well do I let the youth lead, while I stay back?
    • Am I listening more and talking less?
    • Am I regular in meeting with my youth for planning purposes?
  • Am I working in harmony with the other leaders?
    • Am I doing my assignments?
    • Am I positive in my interactions with the other leaders?
    • Do I go the extra mile when it is needed?
  • Do I really believe in the Scout values? Am I living them?
    • Can the youth trust me to keep my promises?
    • Am I loyal to the youth, refusing to speak negatively?
    • Do I help the youth without taking over?
    • Do I show the boy that I am his friend and have his back?
    • Am I courteous and accepting when I speak?
    • Am I kind and fair?
    • Am I obedient to team policies, youth protection, and safe scouting rules?
    • Do I do my job cheerfully? Do I make people glad I am there?
    • Am I thrifty with time, money, and team resources?
    • Am I brave when it comes time to do or say the hard thing?
    • Am I clean in my thoughts, speech, and actions?
    • Am I reverent, showing youth things that are of real value?

Assessing Spiritual Progress

Scoutings founder, Baden Powell

Scoutings founder, Baden Powell

Baden-Powell said this about Scouting:

There is no religious “side” of the movement. The whole of it is based on religion, that is, on the realization and service of God.

Let us, therefore, in training our Scouts, keep the higher aims in the forefront, not let ourselves get too absorbed in the steps. Don’t let the technical outweigh the moral. Field efficiency, back woodsmanship, camping, hiking, Good Turns, jamboree comradeship are all means, not the end. The end is CHARACTER with a purpose.

Our objective in the Scouting movement is to give such help as we can in bringing about God’s Kingdom on earth by including among youth the spirit and the daily practice in their lives of unselfish goodwill and cooperation.

Scouters who compartmentalize their Scouting and religious lives are missing an important part of what Scouting is trying to accomplish. Religious observance has the goal of increasing one’s self-discipline, one’s consciousness of a greater purpose in life, one’s appreciation for the value of individual lives, and one’s reverence for and respect for all of God’s creations. This brings into the picture a lot of potential goals for the improvement of the mentor.

Do we see that people of all cultures are children of God? Do we treat all people with equal respect and reverence life, and do we teach these values?

Do we recognize the great blessings of peace and freedom that we have been given and do our best to observe laws?

Do we recognize how blessed we are in comparison with many cultures and reach out the improve the welfare of others who are less fortunate?

Leave No TraceDo we respect natural beauty and refuse to let youth become reckless and harmful to natural plants, animals, and settings? Do we support youth in their service efforts to improve the natural world and care for it?

We like to think about the Scouting programs as being inspired. Do we act that way? Do we respect ourselves and improve ourselves through constant study and learning? Do we teach this to the boys?

Do we realize that from time to time inspiration from a higher source can guide our actions? Do we act on those inspirations? Do we see others–youth and adult–as children of God, and therefore beings of great value to God?

The last word

Assessing progress using these benchmarks will reveal to us areas for improvement. As adults, one of the best examples we can give to youth is a realization that we don’t know it all, and that we are still striving to improve our lives through growth that begins–and ends–with assessing where we are.


AuAndythor: Andy Gibbons | Vice-Chair, Western Region Varsity Scout Program Committee and author of the “The Varsity Scout Leaders Day Book

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