Most people aren’t one dimensional. And in fact, we have many different needs and areas for growth. As a result, I learned a valuable lesson this past year. Mentoring almost never comes from just ONE person. We are supported and enlightened by different people in different roles.
I remember reading John Gray’s Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus many years ago. One thing that struck me as so obviously brilliant is the notion that we cannot expect to rely on one person to fulfill every personal need we have. And in fact, it is this silly expectation that creates a lot of the inner and outer conflict in personal relationships.
The same, I realized, is true for mentorship. I had been looking for the ideal mentor. Someone who could reflect back all of the values and interests I have but with more experience. When I strung all of my “must haves” together it came out like this…
WANTED: A mentor who is rational and objective, but also understands the personal and emotional elements of running one’s own business. Ambitious and compassionate. Someone who is filled with optimism and vision but who, at the same time, has both feet planted firmly on the ground. A person who reflects a social conscience and truly appreciates the importance of balancing short-term profit and loss with long-term social investment. Someone warm and approachable with an open communication style. A good sense of humour about life yet serious enough to be reliable. A person who is generous in sharing him/herself with others but who also has a very clear sense of boundaries. Someone who models self-care, healthy living and connection to family. Note: People with severe emotional baggage and fruitloops with no follow-through need not apply.
The list goes on but the point is, I realized after reading over my wanted ad for the ideal mentor, that I am actually surrounded by people who embody these qualities. The difference is they aren’t contained in just one person – they are distributed amongst a collective.
THE DREAM TEAM
So I re-imagined my IDEAL MENTOR to become my DREAM TEAM. The image and labels in the image above reflect different roles (played by one or more individuals) who comprise my dream team. These 11 roles represent my needs as a whole person. Now that I see things this way, I realize how many people I have access to who can support me and in turn, I can help to fill a need they have. As part of my goal setting for 2012, I am outlining ways in which I can connect specific goals with corresponding roles within my Dream Team and reach out to members of my circle.
I am extremely excited about a recent opportunity that surfaced to participate in a mentorship circle with several other sustainability consultants. I was invited to join this circle by a colleague and fellow social architect who found a need to connect with other independent consultants. So far we are just getting started but I can already see how beneficial it is to discuss current projects and get input and insights on how to re-imagine challenges and opportunities.
Over the summer, an offer came my way to access an Executive Coach to help support some of the specific work I am doing. At first, I wasn’t sure how to articulate my needs because the context seemed too limited. Since then I have given it much thought and feel ready to work with someone to grow my own abilities. I am looking forward to exploring this opportunity in 2012.
#18 is better than done!