Mentoring 18-04: Experience the Joy of 14 Truths about Mentoring

Mentoring 18-04

To mentor is to provide trusted advice during the learning adventure of the mentee. That is, mentors share the truth of their lived experiences when the mentees are ready (and sometimes not ready) to listen. 

Mentors share their experiences in a friendly, conversational way from close in or far away. They have a vested interest in their mentees gaining personal insights into living their extraordinary lives and/or co-creating well-living workplaces. 

A mentee, ready to engage in mentoring, is often heard to say: “I know I am stuck and with your experience you can advise me to see my knowing”.

My Mentors, My Mentoring 

I have had two notable mentors in my life.  One was a playground supervisor when I was in my late teens – he showed me the path of creativity and freethinking. His spirit remains with me today even though I cannot remember his name. Through his encouragement I began to write poetry as a way to express my feelings. 

A second mentor gave me the gift of his time to dialogue and expand ideas. When Gerard passed from this world, I bought a portion of his estate re: the terms and concepts, processes and instruments to undertake workplace cultural assessment. Then, through continued research and considerable thinking, reflecting and presenting, I continue to honour our mentoring relationship by expanding our/my theory and practice.

And today, I mentor others. I do so because ‘you educate what you love to learn.’ When I mentor I pass along ideas, tools and techniques I have learned. More importantly, our conversations also generate new ideas that expand my thinking and practice. 

 Every mentee is unique and deserves to be honoured and celebrated.

~ Stephen Hobbs

14 Truths about Mentoring

From a mentor-mentee perspective, here is what I have learned about mentoring:

  1. The mentor starts from the perspective that the mentor is guiding the mentee to the mentee's knowing. They are both engaged in social construction of knowledge.
  2. The mentor connects with the identity the mentee offers. That is, the mentor starts with who the mentee is today. For example, if the person is opening a new business, the mentoring starts with entrepreneurship and the mentee being an entrepreneur. In doing so, there is shared context for the mentor's relationship with the mentee – a place to start that is public to both.
  3. Mentoring is a person-centred, learning-centred (humanistic) approach that involves shared trust, respect, fairness, caring, responsibility and a willingness to develop community.  
  4. The mentor is asked to become engaged by the mentee. And yet, the mentor must have the where-for-all to know when the request would not benefit both parties and thus decline to become involved. The decision to mentor is with the mentor; this decision is sacred to the mentor.
  5. The mentor recognizes that the mentee is on a learning journey (adventure) where and when the mentee may [or may not] request guidance. Because of the trust and respect in the relationship, the mentee knows that what is shared is for the mentee's consideration and decision.  
  6. The time spent together is usually of a duration that matches what the mentee needs to learn from the mentor's lived experience.   
  7. The shared (learning) conversation is dynamic, open and nurturing. Both intend to ensure that what is said is relevant and applicable. Confidentiality is the glue that binds the relationship.
  8. The connection can be close in and/or far away. While face-to-face exchange has its advantages, technology-supported connections do allow for distance mentoring. However, there is something to be said for a real voice, seeing a real face, and listening through body language.
  9. Mentors seek fair exchange in the arrangement. While the mentor has a vested interest in the mentee gaining insight, the exchange has the mentor fulfilling a need to be in service – the view to serve originates from a sense of informed quietness.  
  10. It is up to the mentee to use the insights gained from the conversation wisely. While the mentor helps lay out options, it is the mentee who makes the ethical decision to proceed.
  11. Mentors acknowledge and support mentees to continue their learning through the use of praise and the sharing of knowledge, skills, and attitude insights.
  12. The relationship is more transformational than transactional. And yet, when possible, the relationship becomes transcendent. That is, individually and together, the mentor and mentee are going somewhere without either knowing where they will end up. Their relationship requires faith.
  13. Each mentee is unique and deserves to be honoured and celebrated.
  14. The mentor is a partner, a companion and a 'guide on the ride.' The mentee counters feelings of loneliness along the shared journey. The mentee knows someone is present with whom to share thoughts and feelings.
mentoring 18-04

In Summary

To experience the joy of my 14 truths about mentoring here are 5 questions. Based on your responses - what action will you take today in support of mentoring?

  1. Who has mentored you?
  2. What were the gifts of this mentoring?
  3. Who is mentoring you today?
  4. What are the gifts of this mentoring?
  5. Who can you mentor?
  6. What gifts can you offer the mentee?
  7. If approached to mentor at work, and you know the arrangement is not workable, are you willing to say NO to the request? And if your response is NO, how will you respond to the request?

A version of this article was posted 2007 ... now updated.

mentoring 18-04

My best mentor is a mechanic - and he never left the sixth grade. By any competency measure, he doesn't have it. But the perspective he brings to me and my life is, bar none, the most helpful.

~ Brendon Burchard

To Work Well Together involves mentoring! 

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