In all great ‘mentor-mentee’ relationships, both lives are changed for the better.
As a mentor, not only can you share your experience to benefit another, you also gain from their unique perspectives and insights that differ to yours. Mentoring is a two-way street where, if maximized, can contribute to both you and your mentee’s growth and success in surprising ways.
If you desire to create successful mentoring relationships, here are six essential “do’s” and “don’ts”:
Tip 1: Don’t advise
Considering the traditional meaning of mentor is “advisor,” shouldn’t the one thing a mentor definitely be doing, is giving advice? Sharing your experiences and making suggestions is not a bad thing, but a truly empowering mentor knows that what creates more than giving someone an answer, is asking them questions. Asking questions allows you to invite the unique leadership capacities of another to come to the fore, rather than mirroring yours.
What if it was never about getting someone to do it your way? Even when someone comes to you for advice, ask them simple questions like, “What do you know about this?” “What are you aware of that’s required here?” and begin empowering them to find their own way.
Tip 2: Do Inspire
Inspiring others is ten thousand times more effective than advising them. By you not holding yourself back from being successful, being committed to never giving in and never giving up – and going for it with the speed, perseverance and determination you do – you become an inspiration for others to go as well.
Inspiring rather than advising also helps you avoid the trap of trying to get people to become more than they are willing to be. Most times, you want more for other people than they want for themselves. Trying to be the motor for people that don’t want to go takes a lot of energy and doesn’t lead anywhere.
Put your energy towards those you know can and will go further. Ask yourself: What unstoppable greatness can I choose to be to inspire others? Who can receive my contribution? Who is willing to be successful? Asking these questions will make you aware of those who can go and those who can’t and where you can make the greatest difference.
Tip 3: Don’t set goals
Particularly in a business mentoring relationship, the expectation is for the person you mentor to succeed by setting goals and attaining them with your help. The danger of setting goals however, is clearly indicated in the origin of the word, meaning “gaol” (a limit or boundary). With goals, your sights are fixed on an outcome. You become hyper-focused and invested in that result, excluding any new information that potentially threatens it – even if it would mean a change for the better.
Do set targets
Instead of identifying fixed goals, create broader targets of what you would like to achieve. Unlike goals, Targets are movable and more flexible. You can shoot at them numerous times and you can adapt and change them. As you create a project or run a business, you have to be open to constant change and re-evaluating your targets to match the next level of where you want to go.
Ask yourself every day: What is my target? Is it still relevant, or do I need to change it? Adaptability is a highly desired and required leadership skill. By setting targets in your mentoring relationships, you will increase your ability to use adaptability to create greater than expected.
Tip 4: Don’t visualize
Visualizing is great, but it has one big limitation: your mind. When you visualize, you can only see as far as your brain’s capacity to visualize things. It cannot go beyond that. And there is much more available than what your mind can come up with!
Tip 5:Do actualize
Actualizing is not just about visualizing or talking about what you desire, but making it show up in physical reality. Trajectory change occurs when you actualize beyond what you can visualize, and it starts with a question. Ask: What can I truly create that is far greater than I can imagine? What steps can I take today so that what I am asking for can come to fruition? What action is required for this to actualize?
A question takes you beyond your mind and imagination. It takes you beyond definitions – definitions of success, of what is possible for you, your business, or another person. Definition by definition alone is a limitation. If you don’t define your future, your success, your capacities – there are no limits to what you can achieve.
Don’t forget to allow mentoring to be easy! Successful mentoring should not be all about what you do, but about what you choose to be in the world and with others that creates the future you would like to see.
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About the author
Susanna Mittermaier is a psychologist, psychotherapist and author of the #1 international bestselling book, “Pragmatic Psychology: Practical Tools for Being Crazy Happy.” A sought after public speaker, Susanna has been featured in magazines such as TV soap, Women’s Weekly, Empowerment Channel Voice America, Om Times, Motherpedia, Newstalk New Zealand and Holistic Bliss. Susanna offers a new paradigm of therapy called Pragmatic Psychology and is known for her ability to transform people’s problems and difficulties into possibilities and powerful choices. Follow on Twitter @AccessSusanna.