I have been thinking about mentorship a lot lately. A friend and colleague recently asked me to be a part of her mentorship team and, this past weekend, I hosted CAPACOA’s mentorship program, The Succession Plan (TSP), at Pacific Contact.
Participating in TSP in three previous installments and working with five participants, I have learned that mentorship is something I enjoy immensely. It is uniquely invigorating to share your experiences and to exchange your ideas with someone who really wants to listen and learn.
Like a piano teacher working with even the best student, you hope you can impart some information that will help someone advance along the path of being the very best they can be.
For a few reasons I am not entirely comfortable with the terminology mentor and mentee, not least of which is the inference of a unidirectional discourse. In my experience, the relationship is really most penetrating when each participant is deeply engaged in creative, open-minded exploration.
A number of months ago, at the 2014 CAPACOA conference, I was paired with a TSP participant for reasons that were not immediately apparent to either of us. Not surprisingly, the conversation did not start with an easy flow. But that changed as we got to know each other and the conversation moved closer to the core of the issue.
Gradually I found I was talking about myself in ways that were uncharacteristic and surprising. Reflecting on the intersection of my personal and professional lives, I found myself articulating thoughts that seemed new to me, and yet somehow seemed very appropriate to the situation.
Peter F. Drucker, the legendary writer, professor and management consultant, defined mentor as “someone whose hindsight can become your foresight.”
Perhaps in my situation, the relationship subtly shifted with the mentee becoming the mentor. My hindsight became my foresight as I advanced along the path of being a better me.