Sunday, October 27, 2013


Over the years during my teaching career, I was introduced to many different teaching systems, methods and tricks. One method which kept popping up periodically was the use of a continuum to stimulate student participation.

This was an easy method to set up since it only involved drawing a straight line on the board (I found you could do this equally well with chalk and marker boards) and then writing opposing words on either end of the line. It didn't really matter whether the positive word was on the left and the negative on the right or visa-versa, but I routinely would put the negative on the left and the positive on the right. For some reason having the positive on the right just seemed to be the way it should be for me. I have often wondered if it would have been different if my dominant hand had been the left.

Anyway, any pair of antonyms would work: evil---------------good, rich-----------------poor, selfish---------selfless, diligent-----------lazy. I think you get the idea. You can also see that the length of the line could also vary, although I usually tried to cover the width of the board with the two words and the line (obviously another personal preference). It was also helpful to put the words and line near the top of the board so that space was left to write comments below the continuum.

This last week I was thinking about and having a lively discussion with myself (I do this very quietly in my mind) which involved what was to me anyway, a very interesting continuum. You will immediately become aware this is a complicated left hand dominant continuum. The use of colored chalk or marker is optional.

Always Seeks Mentors---Occasionally Seeks Mentors---Bumps Into Mentors---Runs From Mentors


During our formative years we cry for our mentors, we crawl to our mentors and we are almost totally dependent upon our mentors and probably would have little chance of survival without our mentors. If these mentors did even an adequate job they will never be justly rewarded.

During the years of our formal schooling we find some mentors cool, some mentors boring, some mentors exciting and some mentors inspiring. If these mentors did even an adequate job they will never be justly rewarded.

It seems that after these two periods of life is when we begin to scatter ourselves along the Mentor Continuum.

We view those who in their minds believe that they now have a sufficient foundation upon which then can build without any reliance on any fellow workers, architects or tool makers. You can be the judge as to what end of the continuum they have migrated too. They no longer find any need to thank anyone, since no one has contributed to their wonderfulness.

We view those who prefer wandering in strange lands, as if they were some 16th century explorer, going to places where they believe no man has gone before. If they happen to bump into an indigenous person they might pause for a moment to nibble at their offerings, but shortly go on their lonely, reinventing everything ways. They have no one to thank, since they didn't really need the mentoring they had sipped and easily have forgotten the mentorer.

We view those who seem to have periods of hot and cold when they are either seekers or avoiders of any mentoring, sometimes feeling very self-sufficient and at other times feeling like wanderers in strange lands. With reluctance they will acknowledge that there have been occasional people in their lives who have contributed to their grandeur.

We also view those who find expertise in everyone they meet and who do all they possibly can to glean whatever the present mentorer might be willing to share, never having met anyone who wasn't a potential mentor. These are they whose prayers lengthen daily because their list of mentors expands continually.


To my parents who always responded to my cries, who helped me crawl over the rough spots, who fulfilled my basic needs and kept me alive and taught me the fundamental rules of survival, integrity, kindness and love.

To Mrs. Brown, Mr. Hill, Mr. Vorkink and ‘Pop’ Eidelson who represent the many wonderful teachers who taught when I was reluctant, who presented when I was prepared and who sacrificed so that I might be exposed to new and wonderful ideas.

To President Hobbs, President Bentley, President Foote and Elder Robinson who represent all those spiritual leaders who gathered me up when I was broken, helped me repair the cracks and made me feel new again.

To Leon Uris, Samuel Longhorn Clements, Amy Tan and James Clavell who represent all those whose writings have brought not only enjoyment into my life, but understanding and a broadening of my social awareness.

To Kathleen, Cevin, Sean, Troy, Brendan, Rynn and Erin who represent all those who have mentored me in the art and science of being a husband and father and brought me to the realization that building good and eternal relationships is the real purpose for our early existence.

To Tish Whitney, Don Monson, Julie Moore and Paul Maddox who represent all those who unknowingly and previously unthanked were there during critical times of my life and were examples, introducing me to additional skills and added to the fulfillment of phases of life as I passed through them.

To doctors Martin, Baker, Antonio and Lin who represent all those who have helped with the miracle of the births of children, restored health when it seemed impossible, made life’s ever extending days more enjoyable and mentored us to a broadened understanding of our physical bodies.

To Elder Dunn, Sister Dew, Elder Maxwell and Elder Holland who represent all those whose spoken and written words have enlightened me and given me the desire to climb new mountains in order to gain new vision.

To Plato, Justin Martyr, Thomas Aquinas and John Locke who represent those who have struggled to uncover the purposes of life and who have shared the results of their wrestlings.

To Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Philo Farnsworth and Konrad Zuse who represent all those who have through their inventive genius made it possible to sit in front of a screen and explore the world and bring the libraries of the world instantly to view, extending beyond imagination the number of mentors one can seek.

To Moses, Matthew, Paul and Nephi who represent all those inspired authors who have inscribed in Holy Scripture, for the eternities, the truths which help us all to follow those paths which help us to find joy and happiness in this life and forever.

To President McKay, President Hinckley, Elder Bruce McConkie and President Boyd Packer who represent all those living oracles who have identified the pitfalls and pathways of an ever changing world and enlightened the way we are traveling.

To Heavenly Father, Jesus the Christ and the Holy Ghost and all the attending angels whose willing grace looks past our frailties and tangents and are always there in our hour of need to strengthen, straighten, comfort, guide, uplift and inspire.

I am sure that your personal list of mentors and those who you would like to thank would include many people and areas I have forgotten to include or do not have space to include in this Thought. In fact, I invite you all to go to that quiet place in your minds and have a lively discussion about this left hand dominant continuum. The color of marker you choose will be according to your personal preference.

Always Seeks Mentors---Occasionally Seeks Mentors---Bumps Into Mentors---Runs From Mentors


  1. Thanks for your mentoring continum; now I'm faced with documenting mine. I don't recall if I've intriduced you to Professor Jay Monson who started doing his Food 4 pieces back when he was a stake president in Logan and has responded to popular demand to keep them up in his retirement years; much like you have. There needs to be an outlet for lively dicussions in the mind; otherwise it's just talkong to yourself.

    Paul Hansen

  2. Well written message, Bill! You have inspirational thoughts that you write down in a manner that are easily read and comprehended. I so enjoyed your lessons that Richard and I attended at the Institute! We always looked forward to being taught the principles of the gospel in the manner you presented them. You're a born teacher!

    Carla Johnson

  3. Beautiful! Thanks Bill! You are on my list!

    Ed Torriente

  4. If you sent this at 5:20...I can only imagine what time you began writing! Good morning! And thanks again for inspiring me as I prepare to go to the temple this morning. My list of mentors goes on for days and it's a beautiful concept to think about!
    Speaking of mentors, you are certainly one of mine and on the list of thousands of others! Thank you for challenging me!
    My small thank you has arrived and I will call to arrange a time to drop off your tickets for the concert. We are singing at the Nov 3rd temple workers' devotional but probably not the best time to connect.
    Have a great day!

    Love to you both!

    Kathie Brooks

  5. Thanks, as I read I was thinking of mentors along my life highway. thanks for the challenge to think about (and write) more

    Pat Profitt

  6. Bill You're sooooo bright it's scary!!!!!!!! I've learned a lot from you my friend.

    Tom Borgquist

  7. Bill, Reconocimiento y gratitud.

    Alex Ospina

  8. Bill, this thought is brilliant. I really enjoyed reading it.
    Thanks for sharing your wisdom

    Your friend

    Clark Smith

  9. I loved this so much! Thanks again for your insights and thoughts so beautifully expressed! You would be at the beginning of my list of "teachers" I would thank!!!

    Debi Woffinden

  10. Dear Brother Bill Riley: Beautiful and uplifting. You are a Mentor who inspires.

    You have made the word of God delicious and nourishing. Thank you for being

    an incredible instrument in His hands for many. So thankful for your friendship and example.

    All the Best,

    Bill Ruffner

  11. Gracias hermano muy buen mensaje

    Jeny Anzora