Allowing yourself to love your mistakes enables you to create something new.
Mistakes can be fruitful. Some of the greatest learning’s or breakthroughs come from mistakes. Here are a few mistakes from my experience, with possible solutions:
#Mistake 1. Falling into the trap of Assumption.
Every day we make important judgements, about our daily life, and small and big decisions. It is on the one hand vital to make the right judgement; on the other hand it is dangerous to form an opinion before you have the actual facts. I think many of us can relate to making a judgment about a person, only by looking.
I have to remind myself several times a day, not to make any assumption about a person or a case, before I have the actual facts in front of me. Further I ask myself every day; “Who am I to judge this? What right have I to judge him or her?”
In Mentoring it is so easy to make judgements, or assumptions, based on earlier experience. It is a fatal and easy trap to go into a meeting, or conversation with the attitude of ´I have been there before, or I once experienced this situation´. This narrow attitude limits the fruit and value creation in the conversation between the Mentor and the Mentee. It is probably the worst trap to fall into, because it limits both the thinking and actions for the Mentee as well as for the Mentor.
Start every meeting or conversation with an open attitude. Do not take anything for granted, never assume anything, be curious, ask open questions, dig into the situation and listen with your heart and mind, and lift out anything the Mentee has on his or her mind. If you are not sure you got it, ask more, ask the Mentee to elaborate. Last, but not least, train yourself to start every day with this attitude, and you will explore so much more juicy opportunities and solutions to issues you have in your arena.
#Mistake 2. Comparing yourself to the Mentee.
This is to some extent related to making assumptions. The biggest mistake is to compare yourself to the Mentee, because it is so easy. Our minds want to take the easiest route to our own life. And when you listen to the Mentee, the first thing your mind does is to think about your own experiences. It is not totally wrong, because your experience is valuable and there are definitely some learning points there. But, try not to make the first, easy comparison, directly from your experience. Simply because, if you allow yourself to go further, your mind will have so much more to offer.
Use your extended empathic capabilities. That means, go beyond the first step of empathy, where you put yourself in the Mentee´s shoes. Go further, and fully understand your Mentee´s full story, the growing up situation, the family, the education, the travels, – enter that room, go into the highest room of yourself, and take with you your story, your travels, and all the people you met, and then see the perspectives. Then, you will be able to ask questions and get the Mentee to find his or her own answers, probably based on some really interesting conversation between the two of you.
#Mistake 3. Telling the Mentee what to do.
Another common mistake is telling the Mentee what to do. (In contrast to a coach, where the task is to take the “client” from A to B). The task for you as the Mentor, is to ask questions, reflect and share from your life, with the aim of inspiring the Mentee, hence she finds her own path. It is not your job to tell them what to do. You don’t have the answers. Even though you think you have the answer, do not tell them the answer.
Dig into the mind of the Mentee with questions, reflections and inspiring stories. Get the Mentee to go inwards in her own mind, and prompt her to find her own path, if it’s not clear to the Mentee. Ask the Mentee to sleep on it. If it’s not clear after a day or two, sleep more.
#Mistake 4. Absence of Presence.
Most Mentors are attractive people with busy schedules. You probably have a short list and long list of tasks to do. It is so easy to bring your plate into your meeting with the Mentee, and further thinking about your next meeting or worrying about today’s challenge. Please, if you acknowledge that your time is so limited, or you do not have enough dedication to be a Mentor, do not allow yourself to do the Mentor job half way. In other words, do not take easy on your role as a Mentor, and do not meet up, not being present there and then. Time is wasted for you and for your mentee. Your time and the Mentees time are way too valuable, not to be present, then, it is better not to sign up at all.
Take a minute or two, or more, it is up to you on how much time you need to clear the space in your head. Whether it is a physical meeting, a phone call, or a skype session, close your eyes and say to yourself: “I am here. Now. Ready for this session. My space is clear. Dear inner guide, tell me what to say. I am here. Now. Ready.” Start each session with tabula rasa. If you have your own meditation mantras or techniques, use them. Use whatever you find comfortable or powerful to be present in the valuable moment with your mentee. When you are both present, that’s when you will find that the really valuable and fruitful conversations occur.
#Mistake 5. The Fake start.
It is very human to only share our successes, and paint a picture of ourselves being perfect. What is perfect? Fear of not fitting in, or fear of showing our failures, fear of sharing our vulnerable experiences is how we are brought up. Our society is very much based on fear of not being good enough. Hence, you can easily understand that it is normal to make the fake start, about all your accomplishments and good stories, and I have been there. I am still doing it too often. On the other hand, we should be proud of our winnings and performances, and we need to celebrate that as well. The main point about this mistake, is to draw the perfect picture about ourselves.
We are all humans, with both successes and failures.
Be open. Be honest. Be balanced. Share perspectives. Share your vulnerable sides, and failures, and share what you learnt from them. Very often failures are blessings. Very often the mistakes are actually where the value creation starts. Sharing these vulnerable “failures” in your relationship may be one of the most fruitful conversations you will have. There is a reason why we make mistakes. We need to learn from these tests. Also, for you as a Mentor, to share some of these tests, is more powerful than you can imagine.
#Mistake 6. Trying to change the other.
You are not here to change the other. You are here to share and inspire the other. The other person, the Mentee in this case, is unique with his or her own capabilities and inner voice. Be aware of that your role is more as a wing man, or a cheer leader, or a bucket of wisdom and curiosity. Your job is to extract the ultimate power and capabilities of the Mentee, hence the Mentee feels stronger and unbeatable in the urge to make a difference. Do not in any phase or situation try to change the other person. Pinpoint the uniqueness of the other person, thus they can make the world a better place in their own way.
Be an example and a role model. Be curious, and go inwards with the Mentee. Share your inner values and how you found your uniqueness, and how you live a happy life. There is only one of you. There is only one of the Mentee. We all have our strengths and weaknesses which make us grow as human beings. Be yourself. Let the Mentee be himself or herself.
#Mistake 7. Thinking it is a one way relationship.
Next generation Mentoring is not a one way relationship. You are not here to be a “besserwisser” or think that you know better. Yes, you as the Mentor, have something to offer and to share. It does not mean that you have to be older. It may be that you have an expertise in one field that may be relevant and highly interesting to the mentee, and further on be inspiring for the Mentee to learn from. In real terms this is a reciprocal relationship, where both parties are given the opportunity to learn and inspire each other.
With an open attitude, share what you have on your plate, but go into the relationship and believe that you may learn as much as the Mentee. It is with this attitude that the conversation becomes fruitful, again and again, and that conversation opens up a space and thoughts that spin off each other in a way you can’t predict. The only thing you can do, is to look forward to these kind of conversations.
#Mistake 8. Thinking one Mentor is enough.
If you are fresh in establishing a Mentor – Mentee relationship, usually you go into the relationship with high expectations. Which is ok. But, the Mentor- Mentee relationship arena is under – valued, and so potentially fruitful that you may look upon this as a great arena to learn and share with different Mentors or Mentees. One thing is the speciality of your current Mentor, but maybe you are curious about a different Mentor, or a different expertise. Please, do not hold yourself back from choosing several Mentor- Mentee relationships, and they do not have to be formal.
Invite individuals you want to meet for lunch or coffee. Keep a low barrier; hence it is easy to meet. Ask for twenty minutes (not an hour) if you know the person is busy. You do not have to say you want a Mentor – Mentee relationship. Your intention may be that you just want to learn from the other person. For example meet up for a coffee and have a specific topic you want to ask about. Have something to share and reflect on what you want to give back!
This coffee cup can lead into something else. If the person declines, just be grateful for their answer. If you receive no feedback, just be grateful to yourself, that you made the move. Know for sure, that the other person was not the right one for you. If your intentions are clean and right, you will get yes from the right person. This is how the world works.
#Mistake 9. Forcing the relationship
From time to time, you meet people where the chemistry is just not right. Even if you are smart, pleasant, polite, mature, and on common grounds, you sometimes can feel that there is a chemistry which is not right in this relationship. Any smart and mature person can get it to work, if you want to, no matter if you are in a formal Mentor program or informal mentor program, or if you are a Mentee as well.
But, if you feel strongly that this is not right for me, do not force it. Even if you cannot put your finger on it, do not force it. Sometimes you know why, other times you can just feel it. Your life is too short to force it, and it will be a waste of time, because you will not be able to act accordingly to your standards.
Be open, and share why you think this is not working. Be vulnerable. You have nothing to lose. If you are in a formal setting, talk and be open to the administration of the program, thus they can find a new way. Or you can find it yourself. Move on, and reflect on why, but do it quickly. There is no reason to dwell for too long. Make the next step, and pursue a new one.
For every mistake you make, there is a solution. There is something to learn. The juicy stuff is in that vulnerable space. Grab it. It´s yours.
Trained as a Medical Officer in the Royal Norwegian Air Force before receiving a BSc Hons in Physical Therapy at the University of Brighton, where he also received the annual student award at graduation. He received his MSc in Management at the University of Bath, with a scholarship, and has also trained at executive education at Harvard Business School.
Throughout his life in business, he has worked with strategy, execution of the strategy, restructuring organizations, mergers& acquisitions, all aiming to create shared values. He has contributed in numerous industries, within many parts of different value chains. He has operated in major executive roles, as well as being a corporate advisor.
In addition he has been rewarded with different board positions, and furthermore also contributed in many Mentor roles the last twenty years.