“Would you go with me if we rolled down streets of fire?”
Josh Turner, country singer
It’s the simplest little word in the world.
When it comes to mentoring, it is often the most forgotten word in the world.
The word “with” might be short, simple and one of a 150 everyday prepositions in the English language, but it has enormous power to change you and most every relationship you have.
Think about its importance …
What love struck guy doesn’t want to be with his true love every minute of every hour?
What child doesn’t want mom or dad to sit with them in their dark room after a spooky dream?
What aspiring employee doesn’t want to be with their boss when they finally close that hard fought deal?
Life seems to go better when we are with those we honor, trust and respect.
Unfortunately, when it comes to mentoring, the concept of “with” frequently gets kicked to the curb. Instead, a mentor might invite a mentee to the office to sit for an hour under the florescent lights at the conference table and talk. Then the mentee leaves until they meet again, whenever that may be.
What did the mentee miss out on?
Seeing the mentor in “real life.”
Watching her discuss a tough project with a client.
Going with him when he delivered an important proposal.
Rolling up their sleeves and doing something.
My mentor, Tom, invited me to join him in a merger project meeting our company was transacting. On that particular day, we sat across the table from the other company’s representative who was acting as rude and insolent as they come. That individual insulted our company, called into question John’s motivations and integrity and was by all intents and purposes, “playing dirty.”
I watched as Tom handled this interaction. He spoke articulately and intently. He didn’t raise his voice but he was very direct. After stating our position clearly a final time, he said, “I will excuse our team from the meeting because it is no longer productive for any of us.”
He got up and quietly led us all out.
I could have listened to Tom talk about the meeting afterwards. I might have heard the war stories from others who were there. But nothing was like actually being with Tom in the moment and seeing how he handled the friction and tension in a professional, controlled manner.
It is an example I won’t forget.
We learn best by being with our mentors and becoming involved.
The late Dr. Howard Hendricks, in his book, Teaching to Change Lives, wrote:
“There is a direct correlation between learning and doing. The higher the learner’s involvement, the greater his potential for learning. The best learners are participators; they are not merely watching the action from the outside, but are deeply engrossed in it, involved to the hilt. They’re also enjoying it more than learners who aren’t involved.”
Those are impressive outcomes – satisfied learners, fully involved, enjoying it more.
Don’t you want that in your mentoring relationship?
Invite your mentee to go WITH you…wherever, whenever they can glean from the experience. Mentees, ask to go with your mentor, keep at it until you are invited along.
Harness the power of “with!”
If you want to know more ways to receive creative, usable content about creating a “with” mentoring relationship, send an email to Lori@LoriBachman.com. You will receive three essential tips to turn your mentoring relationship into a uniquely shared experience.
Lori Bachman is on a mission to help businesses improve their organizational results and bottom line ROI of their mentoring programs. She is founder and CEO of The MentorShift Group, where she writes, speaks and consults on impactful mentoring.
Hendricks, H. G. (1987). Teaching to change lives. Portland, Or.: Multnomah Press.