Mentoring is connecting with an outstanding person who doesn't need you to like them, who can have situation specific conversations with you with in support of your goals without compromising integrity.

Do you remember having someone who believed in you?  Someone who stood by you with support and candor? Being a mentor is being that person for someone else.  

Self-indulgence is not the object of a mentoring partnership and humility is the quality to look for in a mentor.  This levels the relationship and puts mentors and mentees on the path to  shared discovery. 

An impulse of new mentors is to help too much hinders the growth of the mentee.  A little struggle is a good thing and a reality. Likewise, championing your mentee above others, creating artificial opportunities will build a shaky foundation for the mentee in the long run. 

Realism, trust and truth are the cornerstones of the a solid mentor and mentee partnership. Looking at challenges and opportunities together in this way support reaching goals.  A mentee reached out for guidance, support and candid feedback to facilitate positive growth.  As a mentor, if you promote and praise less than stellar work; if you cannot be truthful with empathy and compassion, you do your mentee a  huge disservice. They may step ahead and over others with this, but in the end the building blocks they missed will pull out like Jenga blocks that tip the structure over.  

So, to do it right?  Create a partnership with goals, trust and candor.  Be the mentor who shares the path of self discovery and improvement both by teaching and by learning from your mentee. Be the one you remember who made the difference in your career. And pay it forward. 

I had a reality check this week; the kind that makes you sit back and say "yeah, I get it - I got it". 

It all started with communication and tentatively finding some common ground in the stepping stones to building a collaborative work relationship.  We shared some of what defines us outside of the work cubicle.

So often our dreams include the hurrying up and getting out of here - the looking for the next big thing  that all too often colors our here-and-now with discontent. 

My colleague shared with me his dream of coming to Canada. And he shared some of the challenges to be faced as an immigrant in a new country.  A lot of the challenges. And he said "it's all about living the dream,  and I am living my dream. I am here." 

And here is where we talk about perspective. I loved the perspective my colleague has in saying he is living his dream right now. What really are your dreams? Are you so sure they are over the horizon in the far off future, the  "when I get this, when I get that, when I achieve??"  Maybe we are really living the stages of our dreams right now.  

 Happy living your dreams. And thanks, Noel. 

Our electronic world aside, I still keep a notebook.  It's full of plans, notes, project notes, and musings. As I move towards the back of the notebook, the front pages become soft and worn.  The bookmarked pages, sometimes taped together to last. 

Everything in the notebook speaks to a story of what is and has been.  

Now it's time to move into a new notebook and with it comes the fresh, crisp pages of promise and new opportunities. Fresh start.  Reset.  Let's see what is written in the new stories!

As leaders we are in the position of giving and receiving feedback on a regular basis.  It should not be relegated to a twice-yearly or yearly event only to be performed when the "do it now" notation comes out. 

Feedback should not be  given or received with angst, dread or anger and yet it often is.  The main causes of this are:
  1. Feedback speaks for others as in “they don't like you, they feel uncomfortable around you ".  This isn't effective feedback and leads to alienation.  If specific behaviors are not identified and this generalization is used as feedback, it leads to a type of sanctioned discrimination which is not where any of us want to go. 
  2. Feedback contains an implied threat. This is when it is implied that someone's job is in jeopardy and doesn't reinforce good behavior or illustrate bad behavior.  It simply creates animosity.  

These are  pitfalls in feedback that we just plain want to avoid.  How on earth could this be constructive?  It can't be. And it speaks to some dandy organizational problems.

So, how to do it right? Trust and respect. Feedback should not be in judgemental terms and yet is often is.  For example, “leadership just doesn't like you" - whoa! Need to take a step back and look at that.  You are sending a strong message that whatever has been accomplished  (or ever will be)is diminished in the eyes of leadership.  That is a harsh reality for an employee to handle. And it leads to bookmarking job hunting sites to say the least, to leave a futile work relationship. 

Meanwhile, you will have lost the value that the employee brought. Feedback, like discipline should be constructive and corrective. It needs to be based on solid performance and and not lead to what becomes a personal attack.  The energy spent defending this type of attack defeats any hope of a useful feedback conversation. 

After all, if you only want to work with dancing poodles, and you can't see the value in sight hounds and retrievers, only hire dancing poodles and be upfront about it to start with. Build your feedback to foster trust and respect, and make it real.