My Mentoring Failures ...

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This program has given you access to an Acorn Mentor. Someone who supports you and what you want to achieve. As you start looking at the potential mentors around you it is important that you know mentoring isn't always successful.

I want to talk about this with you. Because when I first started my mentoring journey I had amazing mentoring partnerships AND massive failures that totally sucked my confidence and made me question everything I was doing.

I want you to know that failure happens. 

Bad mentors are out there. 

I have also been an awful mentee.

Let's take a deep breath and dive into some experiences that I’d rather forget.

  1. Mr. S

    • He was a great person. Someone with a board position of a highly influential and national healthcare brand. He saw my passion and wanted to support me.
      I loved meeting with him, and really knew he supported my vision for my career. BUT I failed to bring actionable goals. I wanted him to tell me what to do and how to get there. Instead, he left me to set the agenda. 
      I ended up getting so stressed as I knew he could help me, but I just didn’t know how! He would give me tasks to complete and I would do them, but I just knew I wasn’t ready for him as a mentor, and I didn’t have the skills to ask for the right support. I ended up stopping this mentoring partnership. I was stressing myself out with the knowledge that it was a great opportunity, while also realising I didn’t have the self-direction I needed to really help my mentor help me.
      I still see him at networking events, and we have a great relationship. When I am ready I know he is there to support me on my journey.
      LEARNING: Have a specific goal in mind when initially building a mentoring relationship or you will feel like you are wasting their time.
  2. Mr B

    • I had someone approach me and offer to be my mentor. He came to me with a specific project and agenda he wanted me to be involved with. I said yes.
      Mr B ended up dictating everything; the agenda, what I should know, and how I should do it. He never asked for my opinion – and I was too intimidated to share it. I felt like he was the project manager and I was a member of his staff.
      I didn’t have the confidence to push back and slow the project down or the skills to realise this wasn’t the type of mentoring partnership that I wanted.
      I was told I was in charge. Instead, I was free labour to get a project off the ground. I didn’t handle the pressure well (as I was also holding down other responsibilities). The end of this relationship did go well. It was a great f'learning.
      LEARNING: Know what mentoring styles work for you and listen to your intuition. If the relationship doesn’t feel right then know it’s ok to back away. (Also don’t work for free).
  3. Mrs R

    • Mrs R was a CEO of an awesome aged care organisation. We met at an industry networking event and we really hit it off. We emailed, chatted, and talked about my plans for the future. She was fantastic and open to helping me find the best path forward.
      But I started to get scared. Mrs R was this lady with amazing experience, a wealth of knowledge. I knew that when I 'grew up' I wanted to be just like her.
      Why was she spending time talking to me? I was a nobody.
      I had a crisis of confidence after one particular meeting and never emailed back or shared how I valued her advice. My lack of response and confidence continued, and 6 months later I tried to re-engage with her again. 
      By that time she was too busy, we lost the momentum in our Mentoring relationship and never re-connected.
      LEARNING: Believe in yourself. People are investing their time and energy in you - because they believe in YOU. Even if someone is an “influential” CEO or industry leader, they know what it feels like to be a new employee, graduate, or new manager. They now have the skills to help someone overcome the mistakes they made in the past, and YOU are the person they want to connect with, someone to share their experiences. Embrace the feelings of discomfort and the thoughts that you aren’t “ready”. Realise you have what it takes to earn their trust and support. You CAN do it!!

I firmly believe that by talking about this will help you see that mentoring is a positive process. While these experiences have been classed as a 'failure', they helped me grow and understand the type of mentor who fits my expectations and my personality. 

Mentoring is a journey of wins and losses: Learning and failure. Don’t ever give up because what you learn from every failure will set you up for the best mentoring partnership ever.

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