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Mentoring May Feel Magical However Mentors Are Not Magicians. 12 Practices To Inspire The Magic

We have a tendency to hold mentors in high regard. And rightfully so. A mentor’s perception, ideas, knowledge, feedback or nudge at just the right moment can feel magical. Unfortunately there isn’t a magic formula to have this happen all the time. 

You can, however, influence the creation of magic by making the following twelve practices part of your mentoring partnership.

  1. Show up. Make your mentoring meetings a priority and don’t cancel or reschedule unless absolutely necessary. Arrive on time – whether in person or virtually. 
  2. Set learning goals. Start your relationship by clarifying what you want to accomplish, learn or problem solve during your time together. Goals provide focus for the relationship. 
  3. Be prepared. Know what you want to discuss and your anticipated outcomes for each meeting. Share this information with your mentor at the beginning of the meeting. 
  4. Create connection. Take a few moments at the beginning of the conversation to ask about known activities/interests of your mentor. How was her/his vacation? Did his/her child win their hockey game? Was s/he able to launch the big project s/he was working on? 
  5. Be present and really listen. Shut your phone off and put it away. Assume a stance of wild curiosity as you are listening to your mentor. Quiet the ‘ya but’ voice in your head and instead consider what’s possible from his/her point of view? 
  6. Clarify. If you don’t have a clear understanding of the ideas or experience your mentor is offering, make sure and clarify. The process of asking clarifying questions will deepen your learning and likely promote new thinking.  
  7. Question assumptions. Be curious to discover the thinking behind a suggestion or idea from your mentor. Don’t assume your mentor’s rationale is the same as yours.
  8. Invite feedback. Share an experience or challenge and invite feedback from your mentor. Ask your mentor what s/he has noticed about you from your interactions – what you do well and where you can further develop your skills and abilities. 
  9. Respect differences and be open to new ideas. One of the great benefits of mentoring is hearing fresh and unique perspectives from someone with more knowledge and experience than you. This doesn’t mean you have to do what your mentor suggests. Rather it’s the opportunity to spark your creativity. Discuss with your mentor how you could implement his/her idea in a way that works for you.
  10. Check in. Make check-in a part of every meeting. Invite two way sharing about your mentoring interactions. What’s working well and what would make the relationship even better? Mentoring is a mutual two way learning opportunity.   
  11. Ask for what you want. Your ability to ask for what you want influences the learning (and magic!) in your mentoring partnership. Ask your mentor to attend a meeting with you to get his/her feedback from seeing/hearing you in action. Or to attend a meeting with your mentor to observe and learn from him/her. These can be virtual or in person meetings. Or to help you prepare for a meeting by listening to you practice your presentation. 
  12. Express appreciation. This one goes both ways. Letting each other know what you appreciate about your time together at the end of your mentoring meetings builds positivity and strengthens your relationship. Be sincere and genuine. Otherwise you’ll have the opposite affect and douse whatever magic may have been created.

While mentoring is primarily focused on the mentee’s learning and development through the shared wisdom and experience of a mentor, remember, as the mentee you are always the ‘boss of me’. You know what’s best for you. If a suggestion doesn’t feel right, say so. Problem solve with your mentor to come up with an approach that feels do-able for you while still nudging you out of your comfort zone towards achieving what you want. 

Magical mentoring can be the result when care and attention is paid to the workings of the relationship as well as the goals and desired outcomes. These twelve mentoring practices are like a magic potion that when combined in just the right amounts to meet your unique mentoring relationship, will create the fertile space for magic to happen.  

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