Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Don't get an "F" in your mentoring program!

It's time for midterms again, which always makes me thoughtful of success strategies and what techniques lend themselves for success and which ones make you gravitate towards failure. A recurring theme for me is, why do mentoring relationships often fail? I think the single biggest reason could be because mentors typically pose tests to their new protégés that protégés are unaware of. This makes it really easy for them to flunk! It seems that this sort of thing happens more than you might think.

Whenever I talk with someone who really knows how to be a mentor, they are usually quite aware that they impose these little tests on their pupils, especially early on in the program. In case you're a mentor and not aware of these sometimes subliminal tests, here's a short list of some of the common ones that protégés encounter:


Are you like me?
More often than not mentors may be consciously or unconsciously looking for someone who is similar to themselves. If you're personality is a complete 180 from your mentors' then you may have to start looking for a new program soon! (in social psychology there is a theory called the similarity attraction paradigm which is just that people like to be with people who are similar).

Do I like you as a person?
It is one thing to know someone as an acquaintance, but what are they like once you get to know the real them? It might be helpful before a mentoring program begins to partake in a little self disclosure about your interests outside of class. To be in a long term mentoring relationship with someone means that you're going to get to know them on a deeper level, and if you don't like what you find there then it will most likely fail.

Do you measure up?
This is a big one. Mentors generally want to know that you're the type of student who'll succeed and maybe even surpass their high standards.

Do you follow through?
In other words, if the protégé commits to a certain goal, did they stick with it till the end?

Do you listen?
Sometimes mentors offer suggestions that seem wacky or off base to their pupils- I am reminded of the movie “Karate Kid.” The main character, Daniel, thought Mr. Miagi was just trying to get him to do his chores for him, but in reality “wax on, wax off” is in fact strengthening his resolve and building his muscle memory.

Will you learn from mistakes?
Everyone messes up from time to time, but mentors want to know that if you make a mistake, you'll bounce back and handle it with grace. Most people that know how to be a mentor have little patience for whining or complaints.

I hope your take this questions into consideration whether you're looking to find a mentor or are currently in a mentoring relationship. In either case, these will help you tremendously.

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