Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself – And Maybe Mentoring

fear-itself

You are walking nonchalantly down the hall at work minding your own sweet business. From the corner of your eye you see the quick movement of another figure moving toward you with purpose.

Surprisingly, your inner fight or flight mechanism kicks in full throttle. Who is this person and why is your heart racing? The form and the stride are familiar, the gleam in her eye you recognize well.

It’s the boss.

She had mentioned something about a mentoring “opportunity” for you the other day; is she in hot pursuit about that?

Your pulse quickens as you search the hallway from side to side looking for escape. You spy the women’s restroom only 20 yards away. You beeline straight for the door, burst into the women’s room and slam the stall door shut.

Your chest is pounding – safe at last.

But are you? The restroom door swings open.

“Hello, are you in there?” she cheerily calls out.

“No one here except the cleaning staff, we’re just finishing up this stall,” you weakly reply.

“Really?” she says, hesitating briefly. “Oh dear, you are such a joker! I’m so glad I caught you. I want to continue our discussion about you becoming a mentor.”

You quickly assess your options. There is a small window above — no, you might slip on the porcelain on the way up.

Inside your resolve weakens.

You take a deep breath and tentatively open the stall door. No longer trapped like a wolverine, you step into the light of the restroom. You raise the white flag of surrender.

“Oh, good to see you. I didn’t notice you in the hall,” you say guiltily.

“I’m so glad we could connect!” she says. “Come by my office when you have a moment and let’s discuss the mentoring opportunity I spoke to you about the other day. I’m so excited about this prospect for you, it will be so much fun for you to take that next leadership step.”

“Are you sure that was me?” You pause momentarily, the white flag waving high. “Oh yes, I vaguely remember that conversation. I can come by later this afternoon.”

You both leave the restroom as you mutter, “She has an odd definition of fun.”


 

Can you relate to the flight of the mentor-to-be? 

Maybe you haven’t resorted to hiding in the restroom stall but you’ve definitely kept your head under the radar when the boss asked for mentor volunteers.

But wait. None of you who are cool, hard-wired, results-driven professionals would ever have a little bit of self-doubt about a little old thing like mentoring, would you?

Of course you wouldn’t.

But great news! Just in case you might know someone in another department, down the hall, who you totally don’t hang out with, who is not quite sure they would know what to do to mentor someone else, you can give this whole upcoming section to them.

Or maybe that same colleague hesitates to mentor, not because they lack confidence, but because they are so darn busy they can’t see straight, and they are already up to their eyeballs in assignments and action items.

Or maybe they just aren’t that interested.

I bet there are a lot of excuses not to mentor.

I love a good challenge, don’t you?

Stay tuned…in my next blog post, I will address just what those pesky but attention-getting little fears are and a few tips for overcoming them.

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4 thoughts on “Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself – And Maybe Mentoring

  1. Lori,
    You definitely highlighted one of the challenges when it comes to recruiting mentors! Sometimes there is a lot of ambiguity about what the process entails, the amount of time required and the expertise that is needed to be a mentor. As a result, it’s understandable that people may respond with a sense of fear and trepidation.

    I’m looking forward to the next installment on your blog to learn about your strategies for getting prospective mentors to feel comfortable saying “YES”!

  2. I agree that many people have hesitations about becoming a mentor. Look forward to your next post to check out some ways to overcome those.

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