Have you ever had a mentor? What was the greatest lesson you learned from him or her?
I’ve had people in my life who I considered to be my mentors at different times. Sometimes they’ve overlapped maybe but usually there is a go-to person I consult mostly about matters professional. Mentoring and being mentored are interesting concepts in that it’s been my experience that they’re different things to different people or different groups.
Where this comes from is that as a human resources professional working in a large professional services firm with tons of employee-centric, best places to work initiatives mentoring was a frequent topic both in training and in new hire orientation. Here’s the thing – people would ask if we have a mentoring program. My reaction has always been the same – mentoring program? Wouldn’t that be a little like having a friending program in life? You don’t need a program to choose your friends so why would you need a program to choose a mentor? I’ve always developed relationships with mentors naturally; grown them organically if you will. The reason is that for me, a relationship with a mentor is built on a foundation of trust and a level of connection that develops naturally or it doesn’t. Because, in the business world I didn’t call all the shots I had the experience of trying out different mentoring programs and found that they were poor substitutes for a naturally developed mentor-protege relationship.
But I think the biggest objection I have to mentoring PROGRAMS is that the term “Mentee“ is a made up word to me. To me, the person in the relationship with the Mentor is the Protege. I may be slightly off on this; mentee may be a legitimate term….or a made up term that has somehow made its way to legitimacy….I don’t really care….I neither wish to be a Mentee nor do I wish to have a Mentee…..I have nothing against manatees, I mean mentees, mentos, now Mentos I’m really not fond of – they sort of get on my nerves too….but I do love manatees. Just don’t call me a manatee or anything that sounds like manatee, ok?
Oh, but I digress ADDiva that I am, the greatest lesson – how to choose from among the many – I will attribute the greatest lesson to C.P.V. who once advised that during the course of a career I should expect to encounter people who are not only not on my side, not team-players but it would be surprising if there wasn’t at least 1 person who flat out intentionally worked at cross purposes to me. Yep, even in our collegial, team-focused, best places to work environment those people were lurking out there….oh wait, they were actually on my “team”. That was a big lesson – obviously – it was years ago and it’s really stuck with me!! Thank you Cheryl!