Mentoring

The Broken Tunnel: Our Peers Are Our Best Mentors

Imagine you’ve finally reached your peak. You’re not taking on small clients, your business has increased, so has the staff and your corporate account. Then a friend and professional contemporary says, ‘You’re doing great! Now here’s the next step.’
What?!
When you have finely tuned your strategies and tactics and are in the flow of success and someone says there’s another level, it can be disheartening; especially when it’s coming from a friend. The purpose of a mentor is to guide you into a higher place, and a friend should be supportive no matter what right? Wrong. A good friend can accept you for whoever you are, but a great friend sees your potential before you consider the possibility of more.
The Broken Tunnel 
A young woman woke up one morning and decided to build a train. She had ridden on many trains before, some would recognize them as the ‘Get-by’, ‘Hustle’, or ‘Pays-the-bills’ locomotives. She wanted to build something new, something unique to her that many could hop on to as well and they could all get to where they wanted to go faster. She knew specific tracks needed to be laid to carry her train so despite the obstacles and fear mongering naysayers she laid her tracks that she called Possibilities. Then she built her train that ran fast and smooth with no delay or mechanical issue, and she named her train Triumph.  She only allowed certain people on her train that were comfortable riding the Triumph on Possibilities. While they rode on her train they were inspired to build their own modes of transportation to fly high, master seas, and hit the road; all moving forward.
To protect the mechanics and exclusivity of the train she created a tunnel with few openings that would allow new people on who were also moving forward.  She called the tunnel Fear-less because there was much less to fear while inside the tunnel. People would hear Triumph but no one could see it or comment on how it was working. One day a long time rider of the train approached her and said, ‘Have you thought about breaking down these walls and opening up the tunnel? Possibilities could run through many different types of terrains and the view for your passengers will also expand.’ The woman was appalled at the thought of breaking down the walls of Fear-less, stopped the train, and kicked them off.
A few months went by and Triumph’s engines began to wear, Fear-less was still sturdy, and Possibilities began to rust. The woman slowed down the train and passengers began to leave one-by-one. The couldn’t trust Triumph to run on Possibilities and wanted to leave the Fear-less tunnel to get moving on their own modes of transportation. Very few passengers remained and the woman struggled to keep her own faith in the slow moving train. One day a passenger saw a glimmer in the distance of the tunnel. They ran up to the woman and told her to go full speed ahead towards the glimmer. The light eventually got so bright that in shone through the car, though blinded she kept going. Warning lights and alarms started to go off in Triumph, but she kept driving the train forward. Finally she reached the source of the light. Triumph coasted to the end of Possibilities that it could ride on. And there in the broken Fear-less tunnel stood the former passenger.
The woman got off the train and walked out of fearless where the former passenger stood holding a sledgehammer they named Advance. The woman broke down in tears and explained how Triumph was dying and Possibilities were running out. The former passenger said,
“I knew it was hard for you to see where Possibilities could go, because you were in your tunnel. I also knew eventually your beloved triumph would stop running because it was never meant to run forever. You left behind the old trains, but this one was only meant to get you to a point. Well here it is.  You could not see that Possibilities was ending because of your tunnel. Now with this open space you have many options of where Possibilities can be built and travel to. I have a plane, Chance, and with I have seen so many places you could go.”
The woman took a relenting sigh as the former passenger explained that she would need a new train for her new tracks. She broke apart Triumph and used some old parts, combined with new parts to build the next train. The former passenger would allow her to fly Chance every once in a while, as they gave advice on how to build more of Possibilities. It hurt her to give up Triumph, but she realized that the former passenger was the best rider on her train because with them, Chance, and building more Possibilities she created her new train Prosperity.
Break it open
While this is a story, the process is the same. We take different components of our lives to build the ideal life, but we cannot have tunnel vision and be blinded by our own wit or knowledge. It’s hard to challenge our egos when things are going well, even if they are going wrong we still believe in our own minds for what is best. Our friends are our best mentors, because they know the desires of our hearts as well as what we are capable of, even when we don’t. We know the possibilities of our business or lives, but we must build it and trust those who want to help us take chances, ride through our triumphs and move forward with prosperity.

Don’t Be a Bad Student: The Mentor Circle

We never stop learning. Regardless of your profession, interest, or expertise, we never stop learning. The best thing about being a mentor is that you have an opportunity to guide someone to the answers they are seeking. Along the way, if your guidance is done correctly, the mentee will also educate the mentor.

My mentor said, ‘Let’s go do it,’ not ‘You go do it.’ How powerful when someone says, ‘Let’s!’” — Jim Rohn

The important thing to remember is we are in this together.  

When seeking a mentor, you must find someone who matches who you are collectively. This does not stop at the type of profession that the potential mentor has. For example, I spoke about Lynn before, my mentee who was starting her own business. I am an IT and Telecommunications services business and her business was a creative solutions business. We are in very different fields, but we both had the same goal in mind and that was to build a successful woman owned small business. I was able to guide her in how she conducted herself, management tactics, project management strategies, and relaxing in the growth process. She in turn showed me the importance of social media and how to use it to benefit my business and personally. These were things I had not considered before. So as I was ‘showing her the ropes as a long time business woman’ she was laying out a new path for me to expand my presence. We walked this path together.

 Ego will not serve your education 

I hope everyone is familiar with the Creed films with Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stalone. Both Creed and Creed II were perfect depictions of mentorship  That was the perfect depiction of how ego between a mentor and mentee can destroy your path forward. In both films Adonis Creed was being mentored by Rocky to be one of the best heavy weight champion boxers and Adonis fought him, proverbially speaking, all the way. Adonis realized that he needed Rocky when he faced defeat and Rocky realized that Adonis gave him purpose and a reason to fight against his illness. If neither had released their ego and what they believed would be the best tactic for the desired solution then Adonis would not have won either of his fights. It takes humility from both the mentor and mentee to understand that they have their own strengths that rely on each other to be successful moving forward.

I’ve got your back.

Our  parents teach us how to be a properly functioning adult and in turn the “new adults” take care of the parents, while the parents still provide some guidance. It is the same thing with mentors and mentees. There is a bond formed that is an endless cycle of support that provides comfort as well as guidance when things are not going well. Because a seed of hope has been sewn by the knowledge and graciousness of the mentor, the mentee can grow into something beyond what the mentor has taught. And both can rest assured in a cycle of continuous gratitude and growth because they never stop learning from each other.