Monday, May 07, 2012

Why I (temporarily) stopped mentoring

This week's posts are going to be a series about mentorship.

I'm not going to do all the posting. Tomorrow we'll have a guest post you don't want to miss. It's from someone I've been mentoring. So tomorrow, we will hear from a mentee's perspective.

Right now I mentor less people up-close-and-personal than I ever have. It's a temporary season I'm in, and there's a good reason for it.

Back when I started in ministry a little over 25 years ago, people would occasionally approach me and although they didn't always use the word mentorship, that's what it was. I was flattered, and humbled and overwhelmed when they came to me, a very young woman at the time.  I was green and needed a lot of experience, and I took every opportunity I could in an effort to learn. I had a great passion to help people.

Through the years I gained more experience and learned a lot of things in the process. I learned that:

  • Many people don't want a mentor as much as they just want a sounding board.
  • Many people simply can't stop talking about themselves and all that they know long enough to listen or receive from a mentor.
  • Many people love the idea of  a mentoring relationship and everything is great until the mentor tells them something they don't want to hear.
  • Mentorship can go awry and hurt like crazy. Here's an article I wrote for the Assemblies of God Women in Ministry Mobilized, about one experience I had.
  • Many mentees today want it all and they want it NOW and don't understand the reality of process. This is very frustrating for mentors.  Here's another article I wrote for the Assemblies of God Women in Ministry Mobilized, about that issue. Most people have no idea what a real overnight success story really looks like.
  • More people are in love with the idea of a mentoring relationship than actually allowing it to function in their lives like it's supposed to.
Late last year I began to feel that it was a time for change.



I had been involved for many years in a lot of one-on-one mentorship as well as leading classes. I found myself getting to an unhealthy place in my attitude about all of the above. 

I have long believed and even taught my mentees that a good mentee will value the relationship or lose it.  Coaches fire clients all the time who are not sticking to mutual agreements and good mentors know when it's time to pull back from investing in a mentee.  I taught the importance of all of this yet I had never fired a client or let a mentee know I was going to stop investing. 

Why?

I believe things came to a place where it had become more about me. I didn't want to lose or admit failure. 

Firing a client or bringing a mentorship relationship to a close sure felt to me like losing or conceding to failure. I still wanted to help people but I was so frustrated and it affected everything from my health to my home life. I needed some time to step back and evaluate and re-design these type of relationships in my life going forward from a healthier perspective.

I've been doing that since December while keeping just a small handful of people I couldn't bear to let go of simply because they were so good at being mentees. :) People like the young lady you'll meet tomorrow...