You’re probably wondering why this familiar “dating break-up” phrase is the title of a school-based adult-to-student mentor program. Dating is like any other kind of relationship: just two people learning to understand each other. It's about honesty, compassion, and respect. In that way mentoring can be seen much the same.
Just recently I attended a Bridges Summit County Workshop to enhance my mentoring skillset. Bridges is an interactive workshop that increases awareness of issues related to poverty through creating dialogue, changing conversation and catalyzing action. Now I’ve been mentoring for a long time and have been mentored for a long time, but sometimes as adults we inherently confuse mentoring with teaching and tutoring and oftentimes both construction and "fixing." When we do this, we miss the meat of mentoring: The authentic relationship that is created between two individuals who may not know their commonalities until they meet and build a relationship with one another.
It’s true that mentoring helps mentees grow and develop as people, but the motivation to mentor shouldn’t be trying new ways to grow and develop your mentee. Rather, we should all be looking for opportunities to build bridges between our perspectives, and find new understandings for both of us.
Going to training sessions and professional developments like Bridges are so critical to remembering the “why” of mentoring: connection for connection sake. In a productive mentor-mentee relationship, the mentor can experience their own chance to learn and grow from the mentee. A bit of reverse mentoring can occur, enriching both parties with experiences and insights from the other side of the bridge. James Comer said, “No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.” Well, that goes to say that if I want my words that I share to have an impact and the lessons that I teach to stick, I must have a significant relationship with the receiver of that information and it must be authentic.
Well back to the title of this blog “it’s not you, it’s me.”
At Bridges I RE-DISCOVERED that to ensure my experience with my mentee would be rewarding for both of us, I would need to take off my hard hat of construction and stop trying to fix them. Instead, I needed to start caring about my RELATIONSHIP with my mentee, not the REWARDS that could be.
So, if it’s not working this year, I won’t blame my mentee, the environment of the session, occasional overworked staff members, distractions, etc. I’ll stop, and before I do anything else, I’ll rhetorically say, "it’s not you, it’s me." I’ll examine whether I’m wearing my yellow hard hat of construction or my magician’s top hat of fun tricks.
Now the phrase, it’s not you, it’s me, takes on new meaning and instead of a potential break up because of playing the role as a construction worker, now it tears down the barriers between us and creates an inviting, engaging and enjoyable mentor-mentee relationship. Ultimately, it’s not them, it’s me that needs to adjust, if I want to see adjustment. After all, I can’t give what I don’t have.
If you would like to learn more about Bridges or sign up for an upcoming training, follow the link HERE.
Looking forward to hearing your feedback.
iC.A.R.E. Director Jonathan Greer