Leading With the Heart
What is a mentor?
to The American Heritage College Dictionary, a mentor
is defined as a wise and trusted counselor or teacher.
In the business world, mentors are known as superior
performers and establish themselves as guides or models
for the less experienced. Good mentors understand what
it takes to help the team get ahead and also understand
the ins and outs of their particular expertise. Most
of all, a mentor is thought of as a trusted friend and
counselor by the protégé.
A protégé is defined as a person who receives
guidance and direction from a mentor. The interchange of
learning and understanding is what makes the relationship
so important. The relationship between a mentor and protégé works
in a Martial Arts environment.
Why be a mentor?
to the Institute for the Advancement of Health in New
York, altruism is healthy for both the mind and body.
ongoing study on volunteers shows that people who help
others feel better emotionally and report fewer stress-related
The rationale behind becoming a mentor stems from this
feeling of altruism. A majority of mentoring relationships
attributes their success to the personal satisfaction they
feel when contributing to the growth and development of
young people. Educators and community members need our
help in keeping young people who are at risk of drop- ping
out interested in school and in providing means to keep
young people off drugs. In order to ease this continuing
education crisis, the nation needs grass-roots level involvement.
What can we contribute?
Martial Artists possess certain skills and abilities
that are invaluable to the protégé. As
the mentor, we have had important life experiences that
have brought us to this position. We have the opportunity
to pass our knowledge to the next generation of Americans.
What skills and abilities do I have to share with a student?
The Martial Artist is role model. We are successful professionals
who fulfilled requirements, like graduating from high school,
focusing on a goal to become a black belt and striving
to achieve it. These accomplishments could not have been
achieved by being distracted by peer pressure, drugs and
alcohol. We represent the notion that a young person needs
a high school diploma to open doors. After all, the Martial
Arts instructor motivates and leads his disciples. Application
of the skills we possess will help young people in our
community take responsibility and fulfill their academic
Our years of teaching and training have honed good communication
and listening skills. We approach young people empathetically
(identify with their problems), value and never violate
the trust they have in us and apply liberal doses of good
common sense when approached with problems.
In order to help our students, we need to first make a
connection and then use that connection to convey our message.
By gaining the trust of young people, we make a connection
and foster a feeling of mutual respect. The message we
provide is twofold: You are worth my time and effort because
you are a valuable human being; and, I can offer - by word,
deed, or the example of my life - ways to expand your horizons
and to increase the likelihood that you will achieve success.
What are the pitfalls?
support and guidance while avoiding the tendency to be
controlling. Also, be careful not to offer guidance that
may conflict with parental or school rules. Consistency
is important. We can’t promise support that our schedule
or budget won’t allow. What the Kaizen Center
offers is the ability to reach out to all young people
who need support and guidance and to provide them with
group and one-on-one attention for a sustained period of
time. The city, government and private industries’ personal
investment in the lives of young people will allow each
youth to look beyond the present to envision a future full
Our mission as role models and mentors is important to
the community. In order to do our job effectively, we need
educators to consider us a resource and a true partner
on the educational path of life. As a role model and mentor,
we are able to offer support and guidance for all students
and most importantly, students at risk. Though this road
we venture is rigorous, there are still plenty of opportunities
to have fun and get the job done at the same time.
must initiate creative opportunities and allow our program
to inform and entertain. We’ll need the aid
of educators (preachers, teachers, coaches, school counselors
and principals), local businesses, student organizations
and community support. We will bring them our Ideas and
offer our support to organize fun events that relay the
message to kick the bad cycle and stay in school, stay
off drugs and plan for life.
are some ideas to get us moving in the right direction.
If our suggestion does not fit within our school’s
focus, we will skip it. But won’t stop there. We
will suggest a “Kaizen Center Day” where the school
or class aims for perfect attendance. Give presentations
where an educator or Kaizen Center staff could host a drug education
seminar. Get members of the local community (doctors, nurses,
police officers) to come in and talk about the down side
of drug use. Have community experts or recovering abusers
talk about the rewards of staying off drugs.
Offer to help organize a job skills seminar for high school
juniors and seniors. Sponsor an essay contest surrounding
the themes of Kaizen Center.
Get creative. Have art classes design TAKE CHARGE! Posters
and help the students hang them throughout the school.
a “Read Off Day” for
sophomores and juniors. Give prizes or awards to students
who, in addition to their daily homework, read a book
a week preparing for the future. Educate the students
on the importance of studying and staying in school.
Talk at school assemblies; bring in others (military
community, local business etc.) who can talk about steps
to success, stress, leadership, responsibility, teamwork
and caring. Testimonials that aren’t preachy work.
Keep it simple and honest. The straight facts say it
an “Opportunities After High School Day”.
Offer other community members the opportunity to participate
in the day’s festivities. Hold an assembly and/or
social function in which students can interact with adults
who can advise them on potential careers.
Have the newspaper or radio stations arrange for coverage
of the events. These events and partnerships will stimulate
conversation on the subjects mentioned above. We must continue
to be creative and improve our relationships. The events,
plus our caring and dedication for the young people in
our community will help shape the souls of tomorrow.