How Mentoring Can Change Your Life
One step forward, two steps back. That is how life feels some days. After six weeks in a double hip spica (Google it), my son is finally out of his casts. Now comes the hard part—recovery.
I have been working with him to help him try to bear weight on his feet again and build strength in his legs so that he can stand up with assistance. He’s not there yet, but it’s only been two weeks since the casts came off. I can see it in his eyes and on his face that he wants to stand up, and he wants to take steps, but his body just won’t cooperate. At least not yet. Physical therapy, exercises, and hard work will help him make progress, though.
But it got me thinking of how we sometimes have to start over or go back a few steps before we can make progress. I imagine a lot of mentoring relationships go through the same thing. You think you know something, and then BAM! You realize you don’t really know what you thought you did, and you have to work hard to catch up.
It’s a funny conundrum that can happen to any of us. Mentees may feel like they are finally finding their footing and beginning to gain confidence in their new skills when they realize that what they’ve learned so far is only the tip of the iceberg. Mentors may be feeling like the experts in their field until they suddenly realize that technology has changed the way work gets done, or a new method has evolved while they weren’t looking, or any number of things. And then suddenly, they become the ones who need a mentor. That can be a sobering day for our egos, but it can also be liberating to know that all of us are constantly growing, learning, evolving, failing, succeeding, trying again, and making an effort.
Mentoring is a journey. Heck, our entire lives are a journey, so why should our mentoring relationships be any different? Once we embrace the fact that our mentoring relationships may move us in unexpected directions, we can begin to explore some of the wonderful and amazing insights, experiences, and life gifts that we gather along the way.
- Am I ready to seek challenges and see where a mentoring relationship takes me?
- Am I willing to listen to a mentee or mentor who will question me and who may lead me on an unexpected journey?
- Am I open to learning and new experiences that may stretch my comfort zone?
- Do I have goals in mind for what I want to gain from my mentoring relationship?
- Am I comfortable if those goals shift and change over time?
- Can I admit my own shortcomings and see opportunities to grow?
- Am I prepared to ask for help?
- Am I prepared to offer help and lead someone on a journey of learning and discovery?
- Am I ready to share what I know so that someone else can learn from my mistakes, successes, and experiences?
- Do I see potential in someone else and feel I can commit to nurturing that potential?
Hopefully you can say yes to these questions. Once you do, you will be well positioned to take advantage of a full and fulfilling mentoring relationship.
Mentoring needs to be about a willingness to learn, a willingness to try, and a willingness to give back. With this attitude, mentoring can be an amazing journey.
Want to help people on their mentoring journey? Download our Mentoring Roadmap eBook to help you plan and implement a mentoring program.