What Is a Mentor?

Mentoring ProgramA mentor can be defined in many ways. According to Webster’s Dictionary, “mentor” is defined as “a trusted counselor or guide; a tutor or coach.” In corporate America, a “mentor” is someone who counsels others to grow personally and professionally in relationship to a career path.

Mentoring is all about people. It is a process used by successful individuals to help others establish goals and the skills to reach them. Mentoring helps the new person acquire skills, open doors, increase confidence and widen their perspective. It assists the novice in recognizing and avoiding errors and in the end, enhances her or his overall experience.

In reality, mentors and mentoring – both formal and informal – exist everywhere in our lives. Often, our personal mentors are those that we sometimes do not realize we have and are not even recognized as such, until we look back and see how these people have influenced our lives. Additionally, we do not always recognize when we ourselves are mentoring others ¬– or being mentored.

In the CFA Mentor Program, a mentor is an individual who is:

  • Expected to take the lead in the mentoring relationship when appropriate, yet is approachable and flexible so that the protégé may feel free to direct his/her own agenda.
  • A supportive, wise, involved and patient guide and teacher, who is also a knowledgeable, experienced and respected role model.
  • Keep in mind that being friendly, successful in campaigning or some other aspect of the cat fancy and/or competitive does not automatically qualify someone as a mentor.

Mentors may find their way into the CFA Mentor Program in one of three ways:

  • Self-selection – the potential mentor recognizes that s/he is qualified to be a mentor.
  • Peer selection – friends and participants in the cat fancy suggest that an individual participate in the program as a mentor.
  • Protégé selection – an individual seeking a mentor selects someone to be his/her mentor.
How does one mentor another individual?

There are a number of models that can be used to mentor another individual:

  • Mentoring can occur on a one-on-one basis – one mentor to one protégé.
  • Mentoring can be a group process – there may be more than one mentor per protégé.
  • And, mentoring can also be a team activity with more than one protégé per mentor OR a group of mentors working with a group of protégés.

Traditionally, mentoring involves the mentor and protégé sitting down and sharing “face time” together – teaching and learning about theory and process. However, current technology allows us to consider variations on this concept. E-mail and the Internet allow us to step beyond typical mentoring relationships by removing geographical boundaries. In reality today, there are no physical obstacles that we cannot overcome to connect people, one to another, for the purposes of mentoring and being mentored.

How do I qualify to be a mentor?

If you have one or more of the following qualities, you are qualified to be a mentor:

  • Recognized and accepted as a source of information and guidance.
  • Strong interest in helping others.
  • Tendency to recognize when others succeed in the cat fancy.
  • Enjoy actively learning new things related to the breeding and exhibition of pedigreed cats.
  • Knowledgeable about the procedures and processes of CFA.
  • Enjoy your participation in the cat fancy and recognize the achievement of success.
  • Comfortable with your own achievements in the cat fancy.
  • Tend to develop long lasting relationships in the cat fancy.
  • Have strong interpersonal skills.
  • Respected by others for your knowledge and views in the cat fancy.
  • Able to nurture the growth and development in others.
  • A good listener.
  • Approachable and willing to share knowledge.
  • Do not mind encouraging your own competition.

Sign up as a Mentor Associate of the CFA Mentor Program by completing the application.

Email your questions to mentoring@cfa.org!