What Mentorship Means to Me: An Update
I have over 53,650 followers on LinkedIn.
I have 6 mentees.
Why is this the case?
Because it takes someone extra-ordinary to be my mentee. And I have only found six people who qualify.
My mentees are all young, but their sensitivity and emotional expression to the world is already highly developed. All of them are empathetic, almost to a fault, where they forget that they matter too. All of them are sensitive to what is happening in the world around them because they absorb feelings and take them on for themselves. If you’re familiar with Jean Grey from the X Men, they’re like her: all emotions, both their own and others, get absorbed and processed. It can be overwhelming, to say the least.
But being emotionally sensitive, aware, and empathetic is only half the battle. All of them understand that life is about constant improvement via personal development. They are all committed to deeply examining themselves so that they can become better people, and ultimately, as cheesy as it sounds, they can do their part to make the world a better place. It’s no wonder that all of them have a human rights element to either their volunteer or professional work. They have a personal mandate to help others live better lives.
So part of my goal as a mentor is to be a safe space for them to personally grow, and to help them cope with their extra-sensitive emotional skills in a world that can be too hard to take sometimes.
What does this have to do with career, you might be asking yourself. Well, everything, to be honest. You can’t be successful in your career (not job, career) until you align who you are with what you do. Intense personal self-development acts as the key to figuring out your “you,” which then gets translated in to job functions and career direction. I inherently believe this to be the case: the more self-aware you are, the more likely that you know if something is right for you or not. It’s why I offer my career whispering sessions, which are designed to help you self-reflect in order to head in the right career direction. All of my mentees have gone through this process.
So now that you understand what mentorship is, and why so few people qualify for it, you’re probably asking yourself: why the hell do you do this, Jon? Why are you taking on the mental burden of youngsters, getting highly entwined in their lives, using up psychic energy for them, and not charging them a buttload of money for what seems to be a very similar service to psychotherapy?
Because here’s the big secret: this form of mentorship is highly selfish for me.
You see, I have a pretty bleak world view. I believe that 95% of the population, and maybe more, doesn’t believe in looking inside themselves to improve. They’re rightfully scared of what they’ll see, because everyone has their demons and really, who wants to think of themselves as a “bad person.” I’ve been very candid about my own demons and personal self- reflections in an effort to normalize “bad” behavior and thoughts.
So my mentees allow me to validate my world view that there are people out there who believe in real personal self-reflection, and who have the means to do it via their keen emotional sensitivity. Because they’re not scared to do this themselves, they’re not scared of seeing a “stripped away” Jon Tesser: the real me who shares my true and honest self with them in every interaction that we have. So yes, there’s an element of validation here, not just of my world view but of my self as well. I want to know that there are people out there who think I’m OK, who can see me for who I am and who don’t flinch. Because my mentees are all capable of extreme empathy, they are all able to do this.
This shit is scary. No joke. I want to run away and hide under a blanket after many conversations with my mentees. But we are growing together. We are bonded by a rare world view that is shunned by most people, and we find solace in each other. I was ready to give up on this form of my mentorship earlier this year: I didn’t believe that anyone wanted to see the real me, or wanted to show me their real self. But my god, I might be the luckiest guy alive — there are six people now who have joined me on this journey. This aspect of my life might be one of the most important that I have in my own quest for personal development, and I can’t wait to see where we go together.