Chance meeting

Posted by Debby on 18th March and posted in EDC 639

Had a chance meeting tonight with someone I have considered a mentor for a long time. It was great to see him, but it gave me some insight into the nature of our relationship. It made me wonder if it was truly a mentoring relationship or if he simply enjoyed having his ego stroked by having someone look up to him and learn from him. In our last several encounters, he has consistenly shot down ideas or projects I am working on. Is he trying to wean me from his sphere of influence or is he now seeing me as a potential competitor? I don’t know, but I do know that I don’t like it. Is it the job of a mentor, like a parent, to gradually make themselves unneeded?

  • Sarah Thompson

    Even if I was trying to wean someone off my advice, I wouldn’t be shooting down his or her projects. If a person wants you to start thinking independently, he could do what Cat does, listening but not giving advice. After a while you would understand that you won’t get any easy answers and could figure out something on your own. You might be on to something with the guess that he is threatened by your success and your new ideas. Sometimes getting overtaken is viewed as an indictment on your own failures, and you have a hard time enjoying someone elses’ progress.

  • Cat Milhauser

    I don’t know. I kind of liked the idea of lifelong mentoring. Maybe the frequency changes drastically, but I want a bond that lasts I guess.
    Personally, I think this guy is having ego troubles. But that’s just one girl’s opinion.
    To me a truly good mentor finds joy and pleasure in seeing their mentee grow, even to the point of challenging the mentor. If that isn’t the case, then was it truly mentoring?

  • Meghan O’Leary

    This makes me look at the role of compliments again. What is nurturing and
    appreciation and what is controlling flattery?
    I twinge every time this topic comes up, just hoping that my intentions are always in the right place.

  • Tamara Weinstein

    being unneeded is one thing — being competitive and nasty another. from your description you might be right in terms of seeing a difference between someone who wants their ego stroked and someone functioning as a mentor.

  • Georganne Shibata

    A job of a good mentor is lifelong even after the mentee has “flown the nest.” It sounds as if you are growing and changing and will soon be ready to depart from your role as mentee. Separation can be painful in any type relationship especially when one of the members is moving more forward than
    the other.

  • Peita Ramos

    Sure she could be a threat to him, but he doesn’t have to do the nasty comment thing either. Did you call him on it? Maybe you have grown and are seeing the relationship in a different light as you mention, but that is part of life and part of relationships, sometimes they don’t last forever.

  • Cat Milhauser

    You pushed a button with me there.
    I have a new boss . . . And I don’t need a ton of direction, frankly he’s at the same level of experience as I am. But every now and then I want to know what he thinks, and he always, ALWAYS, comes back with, “what do you think?”
    I feel like saying, “I KNOW what I think.” Maybe this plays a little into the supervision / mentoring dilemma, but I don’t think so. I don’t want his advice, or for him to make a decision. I just want him to tell me what he thinks.
    Can we say what we think without “leading” the mentee?

  • Peita Ramos

    why can’t we? we’re all entitled to our opinion and I for one am never shy in giving mine *cheesy grin* On a serious note though, why can’t we say what we think, but preface it with “this is what I think, but you don’t have to think this way…. ”

  • Cat Milhauser

    I agree — I think we can. This thread and the other one I posted yesterday about ID are starting to gel for me.
    I want my boss to give me what I am TRYING to give her. Listen and tell me what he thinks, but don’t tell me what to do. Help me figure it out for myself.
    He just looks at me like he’s baffled and has no idea how to providing any mentoring.

  • Valerie Karnes

    In the Art of Mentoring: Lead, Follow and Get out of the Way she addressed ending mentoring relationships. Sometimes they can end gracefully and other times they do not. They suggest that if problems arise, to discuss it with your mentor, but if that does not resolve it, perhaps it is time to end the relationship.
    Debby — it sounds as though this mentor meant a lot to you and taught you a lot. Maybe it is time to end the mentoring relationship. Maybe it will transition to a professional relationship. Maybe it won’t evolve into any thing for his personal reasons. I am sure you are thankful for the mentoring you received and yet sad that it is perhaps time to end.
    Some things (people) are only meant to be in our lives for a season.

  • My first reaction here is to exclaim ABSOLUTELY the job of a mentor is to gradually make them selves unneeded! I am thinking of a quote that my mom says that goes something like “when raising children you want to give them wings so someday they can fly”. I think this because essentially this applies to the mentoring situation as essentially what the mentor is doing is giving you “wings to fly”. I think this is why most of us do not have one mentor throughout our whole lives – different mentors cycle in and out depending on where we are in our own lives.

  • Janet

    Maybe you should also examine your own behavior? Did you ask this person if you had done anything to offend? Maybe this person is feeling used, or unappreciated by you.
    It is not always the “other” person…sometimes the “other” person is us!

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