the illusion of mentoring

Gandalf…Dumbledore…Yoda… fictional icons of wisdom and in the minds of many the epitome of the perfect mentors.  The only thing is, they aren’t real. They are part of the fiction that actually inhibits mentoring.

It seems that we are collectively waking up to the power of mentoring these days, however at the same time, behind this momentum at least two illusions sabotage access to mentoring for most people.

The first illusion is the romanticized notion that mentoring relationships should be dramatic experiences of breakthrough replete with fireworks in the sky and a soundtrack in the background. It is as if we expect mentoring to feel like semi-magical encounters with an all-knowing guru. However, real mentoring feels pretty mundane most of the time.

The second illusion actually discourages people who are in the game. Most days, the real experience of mentoring feels more like the simple exchange of friends over a cup of coffee than a lightning bolt of earth-shaking insight. At any given moment in a mentoring relationship, the conversations feel small, slow, incrementally laborious…anything but glamorous.

This second illusion is the subtle deceit which makes people doubt the value of the time they are spending together. It is the lie that these mundane and incremental conversations are unremarkable. The opposite is actually the truth. The remarkable impact of mentoring is not in the drama of a single moment, but in the cumulative impact of one person sharing their life and their experience with another over time.

The reality behind the illusions of mentoring, is that the small non-glamorous interactions between mentor and “mentoree” add up to life-changing influence over time. Operating under the radar, mentoring can actually change the world, one life at a time.

And that is my point. If you can let go of the grandiose guru-like or overly structured academic notions of mentoring, you will see that there are scores of people around you who might help you with the growth, challenges, or possibilities you are facing. Seek them out for a simple conversation where you learn from their insight and experience.

Let go of the fanciful notions of mentoring and you will discover that you have scores of life experience and insight that might serve people around you as well.

Who could you share your life with?
And, who could help you with the things you face?

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