Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Lost Art of Mentorship

It used to be that back in the day artisans, craftsmen, doctors, carpenters, blacksmiths, artists and such types would train apprentices and mentor students to teach them what they knew, in the hopes that the next generation would take what they had learned and think of even more wonderful things and do something even greater with the knowledge they have gained from the teacher.

Even Jesus mentors those who become His disciples (disciples in deed and not just in word). He mentioned this himself in John chapter 14 verse 12: "12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." In this chapter He was referring to the miracles He performed and how it was Father God working in Him. We as disciples of Jesus Christ, should be able take the gifts of the Holy Spirit as we are given them, and help each other out with them. This in theory should come to us as easily as breathing once we apply ourselves to being taught and being students of Jesus Christ.

So where has Mentorship gone? Has Fear chased it away so that few can discover its value?

Now I know there is a little bit still going on somewhere. When I hear the examples of great teachers or groups of people working together I have glimmers of hope that there are people who remember and who know how important it is to pass on hope and pass on skills and pass on the love for ones work. People simply have to be taught these things first hand. We don't really pass on that warmth if we are esconced inside our own homes.

When I look around at the quakes and woes of the financial crisis being thrust upon us, I see a great deal of people in leadership or highly responsible positions who really don't know what they're doing and who have never been trained to do the right thing. People seem to just be making up crap as they go along. There is an outright lack of respect for other people, which simply begins with themselves. They don't seem to expect it, so they can't seem to give it. How else can one explain the willy-nillyness of approving subprime mortgages and setting up people to lose their homes? Where are the supervisors of these people -- and better yet, why do the supervisors keep getting bonuses and golden parachute deals when they've failed so miserably at their jobs -- including failing to teach their staffs? Don't company shareholders have more say than that?

Missing in these inadequately trained people and terrible leaders are basic work skills that need to be learned in order to be good at ones job, including the skills to assess and gauge risk correctly. Things like this are elements of Wisdom, and we have to teach each other how to develop Wisdom and recognize its patterns and apply it to our work so we don't hurt each other by accident -- or on purpose.

Whether ones job is that of a doctor or painter or a financial advisor, there really are ground-rule guidelines that are very clear indicators whether one is actually any good at ones job. I mean, really. The fruits -- the results -- of the work speaks for itself, and results speak rather loudly of the sheer lack of training. Most students, with correct application -- and who are in the right field in the first place! -- can not only do good, they can truly excel.

We should be getting smarter, not dumber, as a society. Information is so accessible now that it's plum embarrassing that we're continually shortchanging ourselves and eachother by not expecting the best of eachother in character. But character, like language, has to be learned, absorbed and applied.

Shortcuts don't help if the rules that need to be known first are skipped over. See, you have to know the rules first before you can know whether they can be bent or changed, adjusted or flat out followed.

An understanding of mentorship at large seems to be missing ... and I hope enough of us wake up and realize that so that we can pull together and make up for lost time. We need to aim to truly make a difference and regenerate hope in and with eachother. We have to chase away and lock out that Fear that is trying it damndest to overtake us. There is no fear in Love.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Drawing of The Wound

The very first comic book convention I ever attended was when I was 18 years old, and it was probably at one of those old Hotels across from Madison Square Garden on Seventh Avenue in NYC, where the Big Apple convention is held nowadays.

I attended it with my then-boyfriend, who was a comics geek and a very nice young man. We were both Illustration Majors. He insisted I go and there was a drawing contest being held that he encouraged me to join. I entered and I actually won like third place or something! I was shocked and pleased, and made me think I could do something with drawing after all ...

I remember my prize package contained three things, but the only one I was completely jazzed about was the 45 disk of the old Doctor Who Theme. I played it when I got home, but it skipped something awful near the end. It must have been damaged. That bummed me out. But I guess it'd be fair to say that my TV/Movie soundtrack love was started/encouraged then.

Every once in a looooooooooong while I will remember that drawing. Like this weekend.

The drawing itself was a heavily penciled illustration of a woman in a flowing robe. She kneeling but sitting on her heels, falling back, looking up to the heavens. There is a large pole that stabs through her heart and anchors her into the ground. She is holding it, trying to pull free. Her face is a combination of shock, pain and betrayal.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, the first version of the drawing would be prophetic in a way. I was so naïve when I had drawn it! Later on, it would represent me quite vividly. Me, torn through those things that anchored me to this very physical life, while yet crying up to God "What have I done?"

I remember this drawing of mine on rare occasions. I've lost the original, and have repainted her once since, as a 2 tone watercolor. I'm considering making a third version. But I am torn between expressing the pain as a piece yet again or letting go of the pain and not recreating the image at all. Why should I give homage to that searing hurt? Again?

The watercolor version specifically conveyed the betrayal of a close friend. A beloved friend. As I get older I try to be kinder when this happens, be more forgiving. After all, I've been considerably stupid in my youth. I've been careless with people's feelings. Sometimes friends let us down without realizing it. There are times, too, when we have to see their actions are louder than words and they just don't know what they've said to us.

The way I see it now, you can forgive them, as you should, but there is no need to recreate the circumstances where they can repeat that act again. You can forgive the accidental trespasser, but kindly show them out, and lock the gate.

This pain this time around at least is work-related, so it will pass. For that I am glad.

It was just completely unexpected. And dang if it doesn't leave a mark.