I am one of those proud, positive outlook-type people. Every interaction, from my perspective, comes from a good place. Mal-intent is never anticipated. Everyone is always trying to help and facilitate positive outcomes for everyone else.
Maybe that isn’t realistic. But happiness is a choice, isn’t it?
While I may talk at length with my good-natured neighbor, who tells me how much money I can make investing in BitCoin, I don’t take his investment advice seriously. He may be correct, but I will seek advice elsewhere.
Mentors are people, and we are as fallible as the next person, even when trying to help.
That is why I tell all potential mentors-
Do NOT give advice!
Some reading this article are thinking:
“What the heck is this jack-wagon talking about?
Isn’t that what mentors do? If they don’t give advice, why would I need one?
People benefit from having a mentor because even though mentors don’t offer advice, they provide a much more valuable service.
Mentors help you understand your gifts, unlock your potential, and chart a path to your optimal outcome. They straighten the path, help remove roadblocks, make connections, and inspire you along your journey.
Done well; being a mentor is complicated, arduous, and chock full of responsibility and not the type of commitment that one should undertake lightly. When individuals ask you to be their mentor, they place an enormous amount of faith in you. You don’t want to let them down.
Giving advice is the easy way out.
WHY IS GIVING ADVICE SO BAD?
I understand this might sound counter-intuitive, but giving advice limits the mentee’s potential to options derived from your life experiences. A mentor never wants to inflict limits upon a mentee.
Tom lives in a small town in Upstate, NY. He has never traveled outside the town limits. He asks his neighbor, Chris, who has traveled extensively throughout the state of NY, where he should move his family to find more plentiful work opportunities.
Chris: “What is important to you and your family in the next location?”
Tom: “We want a college town; definitely, we are tired of the cold winters, so less snow and cold. We also want a robust tech start-up scene with outstanding schools for our children and a reasonable or low cost of living”.
Chris: “Albany — that’s the best place for you!”
I’m sure you see the problem. What about Austin, Texas? Raleigh, North Carolina? Nashville Tennessee? Even though Chris was genuinely trying to be helpful, if Tom and his family follow Chris’s advice, they will miss out on considering many possibilities, some of which are certainly (in my humble opinion) better choices than Albany, NY, based on Tom’s needs. (Nothing against Albany! I love Albany)
Because good mentorship is so challenging, and advice-giving can be so limiting, it is crucial to make sure that you select a mentor who has the right motivation and understands how to be a great mentor. The art of being an effective mentor can be taught as specific skills and concepts will make anyone a better mentor. So, when you look for a mentor, make sure to find one that made the effort to become a great mentor.
Reaching a certain rung on the corporate ladder is not a reliable indicator of mentorship competence!
Caring about the other person, however, is not a skill that can be taught. Caring is also not optional.
Should You Become A Mentor?
Mentoring is not for everyone. Like any other role, it has its ups and downs, but all mentors learn in the end that to enjoy the mentorship role and to be successful at it, you need to genuinely care about the success of the individual you are working with.
A good mentor cares enough to ask the hard questions, dig deeper into the mentee’s motivation, and hold the mentee accountable for his/her progress along their path.
How many of us thought that what we wanted/needed was the next promotion, only to find out it wasn’t everything we thought it would be? How much time did we waste working hard to get somewhere we didn’t want to be?
If you are considering becoming a mentor, please take the time to review your inspiration honestly. My strong suggestion is that you work with a qualified mentor to figure that out.
Let's Consider another Scenario
Daynise lives in a small town in Upstate, NY. She has never traveled outside the town limits. So she approaches her neighbor, Tammy, who also happens to be an excellent mentor. She has traveled extensively throughout the state of NY, so Daynise felt she would be a great person to ask about where she should move her family to find more plentiful work opportunities.
Tammy: “What is important to you and your family in the next location?”
Daynise: “We want a college town; definitely, we are tired of the cold winters, so less snow and cold. We also want a robust tech start-up scene with outstanding schools for our children and a reasonable or low cost of living”.
Tammy: “Sounds like a plan. Can you tell me a little more about what interests you in a college town? Are you limiting yourself to the continental US, or are you looking broader? Which of these requirements is most important? What is your perfect job placement? When are you happiest at your job? I would suggest we work through some of these questions to ensure that you and your family make the best decision.”
See the difference?
Don’t worry; be happy.
Life is full of options. Whether in our careers or just in living our lives, every decision we make has both optimal and sub-optimal choices. To a great extent, our experiences are shaped and forever morphed by our selection of which road to explore.
Having someone with only your best interests at heart, helping you make well-informed choices that work for you, is a blessing that only those who have benefitted from outstanding mentorship can appreciate.
I wish you the willingness to care enough about your happiness that you shrug off any doubt, indecision, or skepticism and find a great mentor today.
I promise you won’t regret it.
Until we chat again, stay content, stay happy, and be the contentment and joy for someone else.
If you would like to continue the discussion, please feel free to leave a comment!