The first two posts on mentoring show its likeness to interviewing and coaching, a fairly common comparison. This final post focuses on an overlooked but important truth of great mentoring relationships. Despite having many mentoring relationships, including several good ones, its taken half my life and two recent great mentoring relationships to recognize this truth; mentoring, at it’s BEST, is like dating. There must be trust, shared interest/values, and chemistry for it work
Trust: If there isn’t trust in this relationship, you’ll never get deeper than surface level in your time together, and treasures are never buried at surface level. Just like in dating though, trust doesn’t start on day 1. It takes time for that to develop as you, mentor or mentee, grow more comfortable together and find the connections necessary to build that trust. This takes time, but it also takes a willingness to extend trust in how you share or recieve experiences.
Shared interest/values: It’s difficult to give or take advice to/from someone who you either don’t respect, or cannot relate to. This doesn’t mean that you should have similar demographics or careers, but there must be a common ground for you to build on together.
Chemistry: You could check the box on every single point made over the last three posts and yet there’s still just something not “clicking” in the mentoring relationship. You can ignore this factor, discredit it or even combat it, but it is there. Whether the timing just isn’t right or something else, you have to be willing to accept this. If mentoring relationship isn’t what it should be, the most respectful thing you can do, for both parties, is to let it go.
In my last two posts, my call-to-action was for you to begin mentoring through either Veterati or Big Brother or Big Sister, and while I still hope you consider mentoring I’m going to make a different ask today.
If you have a mentor or a mentee, write them a thank you note, expressing gratitude for the gift you both have in that relationship.
If you’re having difficulty making the most of a mentoring relationship, or difficulty in finding a way to start one, shoot me a note via my contact page and let’s try to solve it.