Confucius is well known around the worlds as a philosopher and a teacher; however, in a presentation at the UNM Mentoring Institute Conference by Xiu Gang, President of Tianjin Foreign Studies University in China, he argued that Confucius was the original mentor, committed to developing his students in all areas of life. Confucius says benevolence is the goal in any mentoring relationship. We can think of benevolence as goodwill or charity; however, Xiu Gang, defined it as love. Traditionally, we think of a mentoring relationship as one where a more experienced individual supports the development and advancement of someone with less experience. Not exactly love.
So what’s love got to do with it? Xiu Gang discussed the Confucius Model of Mentoring which has 6 core tenants: benevolence, etiquette, unity, righteousness, loyalty, and the gentleman. He said benevolence is the foundation that the other tenants built upon. Etiquette is how we live out our benevolence in our daily lives. And our righteousness, loyalty and personality (the gentleman) are further reflections of our benevolence. He argued that when our behavior and morals are guided by love, goodwill, and charity it will ensure a virtuous and civil society.
This resonated with me because it really speaks to the reasons why I, and others like me, want to mentor. There is an intrinsic desire to see others succeed, and make positive contributions to society. But most importantly, it articulated so clearly how our beliefs and values shape our behavior, and how powerful a kind and benevolent heart could be when we go out into the world. And if mentors and protégés apply it in their mentoring relationship then it stands to be a powerful learning experience and opportunity for both.