From Harry Falber, icouldbe.org mentor:
I realized recently, that as imperfect as I am as a mentor, there may be a few children out there who, via icouldbe.org, took a very first step into moving out of their mental, educational, and personal environment that I could make a tiny difference with. What was missing for me was the world of mentors that I knew was there, but I couldn’t see, hear, or feel – yet I knew that I was a part of. And then I realized there was a way to do that more easily than on the website, and more relevant and action-oriented than a Facebook friend page.
I started with icouldbe.org while I was with Hallmark Cards. Always too busy for any real time to sit back and do this job at icouldbe well. Then I started traveling on business and I stopped as I was never in the same time zone for too long. And then I realized I missed something about icouldbe.
It was about the fact (maybe even an epiphany) that with even a few words to a student who somehow got into the icouldbe world – chances are, on his or her own with a gentle push and recognition from a teacher, could make a difference. Maybe. But it was a maybe that I didn’t want to ignore. So I opted back in recently. And I felt good about it. And happy with myself. But more importantly, I realized that maybe our conversation online and my small messages of encouragement might, just might make a difference to some child I only knew through the opaque lens of the Internet. Which is why I am back.
I’m not a teacher. I’m not even highly educated with multiple degrees. And it’s arguable whether I have ever done enough to give back to the society and world I live in. Yet this small, unknown community of mentors can and does. After all, why are the kids online in this program? Something, somewhere in their minds clicked. Someone overworked, underpaid, under-supported, and most likely having to put their own money into supplies for education, had the opportunity to see something in a child in his or her classroom, and then had the opportunity to throw a lifeline, in the hopes that a little encouragement could go a long way, one-on-one, when as a teacher he or she is 24, 25, or 26-on-one, and perhaps with little backup at home.
I know I am not the perfect mentor, but I can get better.
It dawned on me, that one way to get better is feeding off the “wins” of other mentors and the energy of a group or cloud of mentors. Of course, I could jump back on to our website (sometimes pretty snail like, but there are $$$ issues out there that are better put to use in the field then in tech upgrades), but I could also jump on a social network or a business network like LinkedIn to connect with other mentors and feed off the collective energy and spirit. And that is why I started a group on LinkedIn for member mentors. It’s also a good way to let the international business community begin to learn about icouldbe.org.
LinkedIn, which is a pretty big and easy-to-access network (growing by leaps and bounds and business-focused), seemed like a great place. I’ve been on it for years – since it was beta. This is a benefit to icouldbe, and to its mentees as we could enroll many more mentors as well as have an ongoing dialogue with each other. I spoke to Kate and Michelle about this, and they seem to agree. If you go to LinkedIn.com, it’s easy to sign up, And who knows, chances are you’ll find a lot of connections you didn’t know you had – with less degrees of separation than Kevin Bacon.
This blog is an open invitation to visit LinkedIn, join (it’s free), and then join the icouldbe.org group. Right now, it’s two – the executive director Kate, and me. I’m looking forward to it including many more, and I’m looking forward to connecting with all of you who I don’t know….yet. And when I am in the ” I am a lousy mentor” mode, knowing you are there will help me get out of it.
Please drop me an e-mail if you’d like to know more. See you around the Internet soon.