Great mentors are judgment-free. And, Ray Bell, my greatest mentor, was such a person. Daddy could be a stern task master and a tough disciplinarian. He was very much a perfectionist when it came to performance. He expected the best, demanded the best and demonstrated the best. However, when the goal was learning, he shifted to a completely different style. His task master side could suddenly became patient, even tolerant…and above all, non-judgmental. When the objective was growth, my most inane question was treated as a query reflecting insight just waiting to happen.
He never snickered at my unknowingness nor scorned my naiveté. As a young man, I heard a lot more expressions of “Good try” than consternations of “Good gracious!“ Bottom line, if I was busy working to acquire a new skill or knowledge, leeway and latitude seemed to be his specialty.
Great mentors are quick to confirm and slow to correct. Great mentors use body language which speaks acceptance and affirmation. They suspend critique knowing judgment impedes risk taking and experimentation, both tantamount to effective learning.