Mentoring: Bringing the Best out of Others 


Mari-Lou Wong-Chong, Wilmington

Mari-Lou Wong-Chong is a chartered member of the Brunswick County Toastmasters Club now in its 12th year. She is also chair of the Brunswick County Intercultural Festival.

Do you know people who have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could?

How can we bring the Best out of ourselves and others? Mentoring!

We can grow by being a Mentee, and can help others grow by being a Mentor.

In order for the mentee/mentor relationship to be successful, they should fit like a jigsaw puzzle. It is a symbiotic relationship.

A mentor offers encouragement and guidance while he or she works to accomplish goals. A mentor has the opportunity to share experience, wisdom, and knowledge while a mentee gains a foundation for building skills and meeting goals. Mentoring can be a rewarding experience for both the mentor and the mentee.

In addition to being prepared and committed, the mentor-mentee relationship must be built upon certain factors including: Trust and respect; open and honest communication, flexibility and understanding of other perspectives.

For success in mentoring, there should be a reciprocal relationship with open communication; guidance and support.

Mentees need supportive feedback. They want mentors who are honest but not harsh, always encouraging, approachable and non-judgmental.

Mentor’s feedback to mentee could be positive or negative. Mentors need to provide critical constructive feedback, constructive criticism that is proactive and honest, as well as praise and critique. The mentor should be accessible and available for questions and there should be frequent interactions. In return, the mentee should be able to admit that he or she doesn’t understand.

Throughout my journey as a community service volunteer, I have had several opportunities as a mentee, a mentor, and both. Let me therefore share one of several circumstances.

Mentee: I suffer from Panic and Anxiety. One of my greatest fears is public speaking. I started my Toastmaster journey from the bottom of the barrel. My first mentor, Chick Cezar, a new Toastmaster himself, took me by the hands, the rest of the club pulling behind him slowly lifting me out of the barrel. My mentor with all the qualities mentioned, got me out of the barrel, held my hands, and walked with me one step at a time. Slowly let me loose until I could walk on my own. From there, I started running until I got to where I am today. My mentor allowed me to see Hope inside myself.

As a mentor: One afternoon, my telephone rings. At the other line was this lady with a Spanish accent speaking 200 miles an hour. She told me her name, just moved to Brunswick County, saw my name and telephone number, and wanted to find out about Toastmasters. We had a long productive conversation. Right away, I knew we had connected. She became a Toastmaster and I her mentor. Together, we started her Toastmaster journey. I held her hand, “walked with her every step.” In turn, she grew and assimilated all she could learn like a sponge. We not only had a mentee/mentor relationship but became very good friends. She eventually moved  to another state, implemented all she had learned from Toastmasters, chartered a Toastmasters club, became its first president, and moved on to take up leadership positions in the District. I am so proud of her and, at the same time, am humbled that I, in some very small way, contributed to her phenomenal growth. As mentor/mentee we thrived, grew, and learned from each other.

Be a mentee, a mentor, or BOTH. You will find it very rewarding and priceless!

As Phil Collins articulated: “In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.”

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