How Mentoring Can Change Your Life
One step forward, two steps back. That is how life feels some days. A few years ago, my son had to have major hip surgery and spend six weeks in a double hip spica (Google it). Even though those six weeks felt unimaginably difficult, once he was finally out of his casts came the really hard part—recovery.
I worked with him to help him try to bear weight on his feet again and build strength in his legs so that he could stand up with assistance. I could see it in his eyes and on his face that he wanted to stand up, and he wanted to take steps, but his body just wouldn’t cooperate right away. Physical therapy, exercises, and hard work over the course of many weeks is what it took to help him make progress.
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? Connect with MentorcliQ to see how mentoring programs powered by our mentoring software and framework can impact and improve your employees’ happiness and well-being.