The “Secret” to Excellent Mentoring…

People frequently want insight into the “secret” to great mentoring.

In response to mentoring presentations or in one-on-one conversations about mentoring, I’m often asked questions that center on whether one move vs. another is “best” for mentoring and its intended outcomes.

My answer to questioners who ask should I do either “a” or “b” in a mentoring relationship is often (frustratingly I’m sure) YES. The reasoning behind this non-committal answer is that it depends on the mentor, person being mentored, the environment or context, or other factors. Certainly, there are many general principles that work well in mentoring; yet, there are few hard and fast rules about specific actions that would always work across the board (or a general secret to success).

The truth is that the “secret” to excellent mentoring is to recognize early and often that there is NO one-size-fits all approach to excelling at mentoring. Thus, the secret is that excellent mentoring is decidedly relational.

A commitment to excellence in mentoring is truly a commitment to getting to know the person that you are mentoring—their strengths, areas of needed growth, personal goals and aspirations, and other critical factors. You need also allow them to get to know you—your mentoring style (fixed vs. flexible), your goals for mentoring, and your expectations (for yourself and them in the process). It is is through cultivating a mutual knowing, and a commitment to doing so on an ongoing basis, that you can truly (and routinely) forge a path towards mentoring success.

If you have thoughts on this or other posts, find me on Twitter at @BerondaM

Retreating to Advance

I love a “retreat” — which for me is generally a treasured (approaching sacred) time with physical and/or mental distance away from the daily grind.

I retreat to rest and rejuvenate. I retreat to reflect. I retreat to plan. I frequently retreat to write. I retreat for self-care.

I have even been known to retreat just to get a brief break from the cold, gray, and snow of winter.

I retreat in solitude and I retreat in groups.

The common denominator of my retreats is that I always retreat to advance.

It’s easy to stay super busy (for me both professionally and personally). And frequently we falsely assume that constant motion or activity is the “key to success” and progress. However, I’ve learned — and re-learned time and time again — that for me retreating is critical to true progress, fulfillment and advancement.

So in all cases I retreat to advance:

To advance in my thinking,

To advance in my work,

To advance in my writing,

To advance in my self-care.

Retreating is critical to my success, fulfillment, grounding….so I retreat to advance!

——

Reflection during a recent retreat planned to facilitate recovery from emotional & physical labor.

The Importance of the “Pause”

All too frequently, we are on the “move” — rarely pausing to process what brought us to any one point, destination, or decision.

Whether a “win” or a perceived “loss” or “failure”, we rarely pause and meaningfully reflect upon what contributed to the outcome at hand.

There are so many questions we need ask ourselves when something exceeds beyond our wildest dreams OR when things go down a different path or meet an unwelcome roadblock.

Yet, we rarely pause to reflect, learn and plan adequately (and boldly) for the next steps. I think for too many a pause is uncomfortable, undervalued, goes against all the incessant action that too many of us value – i.e., the illusion of busyness as evidence of commitment and productivity.

Now, I admittedly may be a little too obsessed with the pause as evidenced by my “over-commitment” to retreats (for a range of distinct purposes).

However, it’s often in a pause that I can identify the strengths, good choices, purposeful planning, specific community, etc. that brought me to a “win”. This awareness then ensures that I can position myself to engage these factors/players intentionally in future endeavors. Also, it’s in a pause that I can claim accountability for the ways in which I impeded my own growth and success, and strategically review opportunities for me to identify and engage support of mentors, advisors, “re-direct0rs”, and other players.

It can also be in a pause where I recognize the structural barriers that may impede progress in some ways or areas.

Our gut reaction after a “success” or especially a perceived “failure” can be to move on quickly to the next thing. Sometimes we rapidly move on due to a need to continue to demonstrate “worthiness” in the case of successes or to cover any perceptions of our “worthlessness” in the cases of failures. Yet, we have to resist outsourcing our personal perceptions of our worth and embrace the possibility that true worth comes from what we learn from the paths we pursue rather than strictly what we “achieve” and those things at which we succeed.

In this sense we pause to reflect, we pause to learn, we pause to advance with meaning, purpose, impact.

If you have thoughts on this or other posts, find me on Twitter at @BerondaM