A Mentor Dies And His Influence Continues

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 3.28.32 PMI am saddened by the death of my friend and mentor. Our souls were intertwined from the start, but events in recent years broke our capacity to express what we meant to each other. We both longed for what we had been to each other, yet neither of us could find the path for a return.

Many others who were the glue between us, knew of the public reasons for our estrangement, but only he and I knew what really happened. Knowing the private reason or tolerating the public perception does not diminish my love for him. Nor does it reduce the impact he had on my life.

We could exchange ideas, thoughts, and feelings of a personal and professional nature all in the same sentence. Our life work shared the same DNA. When we worked on projects together, we both achieved greater heights than either of us could have ascended to alone.

We yearned for the same things. We held hands, we locked arms, and we laughed uproariously when we encountered common obstacles. Once when we discovered a memo that called us “a pair of axxholes,” we were more delighted than offended.

Our friendship, companionship, and ability to learn from each other was probably deeper and more intimate than most men are able to attain in their lifetime. I am grateful for what we had and I will always treasure everything that we were to each other.

The smile and twinkle are gone. The greeting and enthusiasm that set aglow the inner fire are now memories. A twist of fate allowed us to have time together before death claimed his body. Our conversation brought joy to both our spirits and the healing path emerged.

Death, we both discerned long ago, turns us all into philosophers. Tragedy requires us to reassess our relationship with the temporal world and the expanse of the universe. My mentor said, “Why wait for such trauma to occur? Why not help people know themselves in the world without having to gain such knowledge through tragic circumstance?”

He called this help “socio-dynamic” counselling. With a few simple principles, he launched a system that has influenced helping professionals around the world and has left a legacy of practitioners, researchers, and teachers.

His death, like his life, touches our most inner world. Despite our grief, our tears and our longing for him, we carry forward the larger question that was most dear to his being: “What is my place in the cosmos?” And within that question, we struggle with a more immediate enquiry: “What can I do to help?”

I cannot say what I will miss most. The suspenders? The unique clothing? The Moroccan chicken? The unwillingness to engage in chit-chat? The fine wines? The insights? The stories of ranch life? The garden oasis? The gatherings? The walks? The battles with the dragons? The challenge to engage? Doing your best? Living authentically? Inspiring writing? Emotional intelligence? Road trip snoring?

What we meant to each other, what we did for each other, and how we were to each other has left me with exceptional solace. I wish, however, that I could have said “I love you,” before only his soul could hear me. Oh, brother, where art thou? Are you yet again paving the way for my travels?

(This mentoring story is an excerpt from my book on mentoring, “Shaping the Future: 150+ Canadian Mentoring Relationships That Make Canada Great, Creative, Innovative, Productive, Successful and Welcoming.”  The book was written to coincide with the celebration Canada’s 150th Anniversary. It includes more than 150 examples of mentoring relationships from all walks of life in Canada including sports, history, leadership, the arts, entertainment, acting, Broadway, music, politics, and business. It also includes ideas about the key principles associated with mentoring; how mentoring and coaching are the same and different; illustrations of mentoring relationships from my own life (such as the story above) and what I learned from them; and examples of mentoring relationships experienced by well-known and lesser-known Canadians. To make it easier to find particular people and who mentored whom, I’ve included a name index. The book is available from Amazon.)

 

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Helping Children Help Each Other

PEERS3When students experience a worry, concern or frustration, they are more likely to turn to each other for help. But the others often do not know what to do to help even though they have a strong desire to aid their friends. K-8 trained and supervised peer helpers can provide the help needed for their peers to improve their mental health, reduce academic and social barriers, and find more value in school.

This project, run by Canada’s most experienced and longest running peer program leaders has the potential for reaching 439,611 students in 895 K-8 schools in British Columbia.

Help me increase the number of peer helpers in K-8 schools in this mailing campaign to provide peer helper recruiting and information posters to schools. Even if only 1% of students wind-up volunteering, that means that more than 4000 additional students will be helping their peers across the Province.

Each poster has a place for the individual school to place their own personalized contact information. The donated posters are valued at $5.00 each, but the mailing costs to schools, including a mailing tube and postal delivery, are about $12.00 per mailing. The funds raised by this campaign will be used to cover mailing costs for as many posters as we can mail out. All labour will be donated by Peer Resources.

Persons who donate more than $100.00 will be eligible to select any of Peer Resources’ mentoring and peer support e-books in appreciation for a donation.

10,000 Mentoring Relationships Detailed in the Mentoring Hall of Fame

HallofFame3We reached a milestone in our collection of famous mentoring relationships in our curated collection known as The Mentoring Hall of Fame.

The list of mentor pairs was compiled by Rey Carr from a variety of sources including autobiographies, biographies, newspaper articles, personal interviews, and diligent historical research. Mentor pairs portrayed in fiction or movies are also included.

Pairings are divided into ten general categories. In most cases, mentors and their partners could be included in the same category. However, where a mentor and partner are from different career or life areas, the pairing has been placed in the partner’s category. (A few historical facts or humorous references to the term mentor are included at various places in the listings.)

The Categories include:

  • Actors, Comedians, Producers, and Directors (Stage, Screen, and TV
  • Mentoring relationships depicted in motion pictures and television
  • Musicians, Songwriters, and Singers
  • Classical and Broadway Musicians, Composers, Conductors, Ballet, and Modern Dancers
  • Fashion, Media, and Celebrities
  • Artists, Writers, Photographers, Publishers, Novelists, Poets
  • Mentoring relationships depicted in print (novels stories, fiction)
  • Sports Figures, Athletes, and Coaches
  • Historical, Political, Spiritual and Civic Leaders
  • Business, Industry, Education, Science, and Medical Leaders

Some of the latest additions:

American film icon and director Clint Eastwood was a mentor to American director, screenwriter, and producer Michael Cimino (1939-2016); and is a mentor to Canadian film director Stephen Campanelli.

Minnesota Twins outfielder and baseball Hall of Fame member Kirby Puckett (1960-2006) is a mentor to Arkansas-born former professional baseball fielder Torii Hunter. He was remembered by one of the many people he mentored as a person who “Let us know we can pursue anything that we want to as long as we work hard.”

American short-story writer and poet Raymond Carver (1938-1988) considered his mentor to be American novelist, university professor and literary critic John Gardner  (1933-1982).

In Meg Wolitizer’s 2018 novel, The Female Persuasion, feminist Faith Frank is a mentor to college student Greer Kadetsky.

Kentucky-born American actor, director, activist and philanthropist George Clooney is a mentor to Boston-born American actor, director, producer and screenwriter John Krasinski.

Terrace, British Columbia-born Canadian choreographer, and dancer Crystal Pite is a mentor to award-winning Puerto Rico-born American dancer and choreographer Bryan Arias.

Former Vietnamese Prime Minister and economist Phan Van Khai (1933-2018), who was the country’s first post-American War in Vietnam leader, was mentored by Vietnamese politician, former Prime Minister of Vietnam and revolutionary veteran soldier in the war against the French colonists and American forces, Vo Van Kiet (1922-2008).

Texas-born American jazz guitarist Herb Ellis (1921-2010) was a mentor to jazz guitarist Emily Remler (1957-1990).

British educator and social entrepreneur Sir Cyril Taylor (1935-2018) was described as a “true mentor” to many who worked with him. Sir Cyril considered Jimmy Coronna, the travel director of the American Institute for Foreign Study, as his mentor.

The Power of Peers Reaches Across the Globe

largeMy heart soared when I saw the photos of youth participating in the “March for Our Lives”. My lifelong professional and personal mission has been to educate and support youth to learn how to help, not hurt, each other. And here they were showing how they can work together to bring changes in a world thirsty for healing, eager for safety, and determined to find hope.

The horror of gun violence and school shootings in the USA was clearly the tipping point to generate such massive youth involvement in peaceful protests. I think the incredible cooperation between youth from all over the country came about in part because of their experience and knowledge of the power of peer support.

For more than 45 years my colleagues in the USA, through the National Association of Peer Program Professionals and in Canada through Peer Resources, have been training teachers, counsellors, and other school, college and university personnel to establish peer programs in their institutions.

Virtually every student has been enrolled in a school where peer helping was a significant service in a range of ways to provide support for students. Often students who knew about or participated in peer-based services as elementary students demanded or started such services when they were in high school or entered college. Student peer helpers in high school expected such services to continue to be available at their college or university.

While the type of peer service on offer differed from place to place, the ambiance and foundation that peers helping peers was the most powerful influence, whether in a formal or informal way, became known as the most potent force in the lives of young people.

Unlike the myths associated with “peer pressure” and its negative connotations, most young people have realized that peer support or positive peer pressure is a force that could be used to manage, cope with, or transcend many of the challenges associated with youth.

The massive numbers associated with the “March for Our Lives;” the inspiring speeches given by student leaders and participants, the thrilling feeling of being part of something much larger while not losing your own identity, and power of hope generated by being with and for each other independent of differences are outcomes we dreamed about back in 1970 when we initiated the first peer trainings in Canada and the USA.

Engage Children as Peer Helpers

PEERS2.JPGI’m hoping to raise enough donations to send a set of peer helper recruiting posters to K-8 schools in Canada. I want to send these posters at no cost to schools since teachers, parents, and students are already being asked to pay for so many needed services. To make this happen, we’ve set a goal of $5500 to pay for the mailing costs (mail tubes and postal charges). The posters and the labour are all being donated by Peer Resources.

I’m sure that as children learn they can become peer helpers and they can turn to peer helpers to assist them with practical dilemmas and be referred to professionals through a trusted source, we will be able to help children learn the value of helping, not hurting, each other.

Donations can be made anonymously, and donations over $100 are eligible to receive any of our peer and mentor e-books at no cost. Once a donation is made, we will contact the donor to express appreciation and let him or her know how to access the catalogue of free e-books.

Donation page: www.youcaring.com/peerhelpingposters

Albert Ellis: The Abrasive Mentor

Albert_EllisProvocative, controversial, and energizing, Dr. Albert Ellis (1913-2007), the creator of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), was one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century. His work on cognitive psychology, action orientation, confronting irrational beliefs, the importance of emotional growth, and challenge to the prevailing dominance of psychoanalytic psychotherapy, gave rise to one of the foundations of what is today called cognitive coaching.

As a student in high school Albert Ellis planned on studying accounting, make enough money to retire at age 30, and become the great American novelist. He devoted most of his time to writing short stories, plays, novels, comic poetry, essays and non-fiction books. The Depression that began in 1929 reduced his brief interest in a business career, and he found that non-fiction writing was more to his liking than producing fiction. He started to write about the field of human sexuality and became a noted expert and informal counselor in this area. His peer counseling led him to discover his calling in this field, and he began to steer towards a career in clinical psychology.

When he received his doctorate in clinical psychology from Columbia University in 1947, he was an ardent supporter of psychoanalysis. But his faith in this technique began to wane when he found that clients stayed the same whether he met with them daily or weekly. He started to inject advice into the sessions and discovered that his clients actually improved when he pointed out their “crooked way of thinking.” One of his critics believed this patient improvement was just a way to get Dr. Ellis to stop talking. Dr. Ellis, however, believed that patients had to take immediate action to change their behavior. “Neurosis,” he said, was “just a high-class word for whining.”

In 1965 when I was a graduate student in the clinical-school psychology program at San Francisco State College (now San Francisco State University), the film Three Approaches to Psychotherapy (available on YouTube) was the most frequently viewed and widely-discussed movie about therapy. In the film, Albert Ellis (Rational-Emotive), Carl Rogers (Client-Centered) and Fritz Perls (Gestalt) took turns conducting therapy with the same patient: “Gloria.” At the end of the 36-minute film, the producer and director of the film, Everett Shostrom, interviewed Gloria about her experience of therapy with the three greats and rivals.

As graduate students we argued late into the night on many occasions about the therapists’ techniques and Gloria’s reactions. Dr. Ellis always seemed to receive the most criticism because of his abrupt and abrasive manner. The criticism acted as a catalyst when Dr. Ellis was scheduled to be a keynote speaker at the American Psychology Association conference in our city. All the students in our grad program eagerly got tickets to the event.

As part of his talk, Dr. Ellis solicited a volunteer from the audience so that he could demonstrate some of the principles of REBT. His interaction with the volunteer was surprisingly humorous and provocative. As a result of his style, he was nicknamed “the Lenny Bruce of psychotherapy.” (For those too young to remember Lenny Bruce, he was probably the first stand-up comedian to focus on politics, civics, and real events in highly caustic rants filled with “forbidden” words.)

I recall one of my fellow students saying after the demonstration, “Dr. Ellis has some great ideas and practices for helping people make significant changes. Too bad he’s the one using them.” Because Dr. Ellis was often described as cold and aloof with an abrasive demeanor, many people were surprised to learn that Dr. Ellis was a personal mentor to many junior psychotherapists. In a research study conducted with 150 psychotherapists in 1999, 75 percent reported that Dr. Ellis had been a personal mentor (Johnson, Digiuseppe, & Ulven). Dr. Ellis published over 54 books and 600 articles on REBT, and at the time of his death he was President Emeritus of the Albert Ellis Institute (formerly the Institute of Rational Living) in New York.

Become a Member of Peer Resources’ Mentor Hall of Fame

105+CoverMy fascination with, commitment to, and 60+ year involvement in mentoring started when I entered high school and became connected to an older student who was assigned to be my mentor. I was to learn that the relationship I had with my mentor would last a lifetime even after he died in an auto crash.

Since that time I’ve been blessed with a number of mentoring relationships all of which taught me life lessons that I hope will enable me to leave a similar legacy to those I have mentored.

I’ve learned that in many cases I didn’t know I was being mentored or was acting as a mentor to someone else. That is, at the time, I wasn’t aware of the life-long impact the thoughts, ideas, and actions of another would have on me or how my actions, thoughts, and ideas would leave a legacy for another person. I also learned that distance from another did not act as a barrier to mentoring. In addition, I learned something about mentoring that surprised me: mentoring can occur through literature, music, art, and the physical elements of our planet such as a glorious sunset or a majestic forest.

I think that a mentoring relationship is a primary way our culture is transmitted and transformed. Mentoring has been with us always whether it was elders sharing stories around a fire or modern business leaders considering how best to manage succession.

Recognition of the power of mentoring has prompted thousands of formal mentoring programs in schools, governments, colleges, universities, community agencies, hospitals, professional associations, and the business world.

HallofFame3At Peer Resources we started curating a list of a few well-known persons who were mentors or had been mentored. That list grew exponentially and is now the foundation of our Mentor Hall of Fame.* More than 5,000 mentoring relationships are included in the Mentor Hall of Fame database.

To help celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, I selected more than a 150 mentoring relationships of well-known (and lesser known) Canadians; combined details about their relationships with ideas about mentoring and added examples of how those mentoring ideas were demonstrated in my own mentoring relationships.

The result is my current book on mentoring.  The book provides information about the Four Pillars of Mentoring as a way of helping readers understand what mentoring is and isn’t. It includes several examples of the Four Pillars drawn from my life experience. The majority of the book lists mentor pairings of Canadians, mostly well-known from many walks of life including history, leadership, education, sports, business, medicine, the arts, writing, journalism, music, and the motion picture industry. Non-Canadians are also included when they were mentored by a Canadian or acted as a mentor to a Canadian. A name index is included to make it easier to search for particular individuals.

Where to Get This Book: This book is available as an e-book and is free to members of the Peer Resources Network. The e-book version is also available online from Amazon, local bookstores in the Victoria, British Columbia area, and the Greater Victoria Public Library. (GVPL)

* The Mentor Hall of Fame database includes mentors from all over the world, from all walks of life, and from history. If you’d like to be considered for inclusion in the Hall of Fame, leave a comment here with your mentoring details. If you want to know if you are already in the Mentor Hall of Fame or who else is currently listed, visit our database here.