We have had number of questions from our mentees and would like to share four here with you, together with our recommendations to support you as you carry on mentoring.
1. Should we continue with the mentoring relationship when everything feels like it is falling apart?
While many of us are taking time to come to terms with our new realities, and mentoring conversations may center on this, when it comes to your business and personal/family life, there will probably be some difficult decisions you need to make and be a part of, such as how am I really? How am I, my family and business really affected and what does this mean for me? What can I purposefully do now? What’s the next step I can take? What are the opportunities and priorities? How can things be done differently?
It is in times like this that supporting each other, and mentoring is even more critical than ever.
This is where your mentor can play an important role as they are invested in walking alongside you and taking every step with you, helping you to evaluate all perspectives before making key decisions, helping you to see the wood for the trees and being the mirror so that you can see who you are becoming through this; a resilient leader who will emerge stronger.
These times are giving us an opportunity to adapt our ways of working and this could be a great time for you to revisit and make any amendments to your mentoring agreement and objectives as well as to clarify and/or reset boundaries around what your mentor is and is not able to support you with.
We believe that Albert Einstein was right when he said “In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.” It may be very hard for some of us to see this right now, but every change opens up new doors of opportunity. If we can see these, we will emerge more resilient: your mentor is ready to play a critical role in supporting you to keep a positive mindset, explore the options, identify your fears, gain clarity and build your resilience.
Draw on this precious resource as support and give to others during this time; it is through serving others that we gain meaning and purpose. Remember that it is up to you to drive this relationship, so reach out to your mentor today and let them know that you would like to talk.
2. How can my mentor effectively support me during a time when there is such a lack of clarity?
Whether or not the current situation has had an effect on your business, you are likely going to have to reframe everything, see it from a different perspective and explore options as to how to move forward, determine the type of leader you wish to be during this time and find the opportunities for yourself and the organization which lie within.
There may be some immediate questions which you may already be thinking through; what are the key risks to my focus/business today? What should my priorities be? What actions should I be taking today? How should I manage my cash? How should I engage with and manage my relationships with my team? Do I need to lay any of them off and if so, how do I manage that process in a way which is in alignment with my values? I may feel tht closing my business is the only option, what other options are there open to me? How can I work in solidarity and support other organisations who may be in a less fortunate position? Are there any partnerships which I can make today to help me achieve my goals? Can I outsource any work to smaller businesses to help them stay afloat? How can I personally support the emergency need? How do I get the energy and mindset to fight another day?
You will undoubtedly be experiencing a mix of confusion, fear, insecurity, stress and/or loneliness. Take the time to further develop the safe space with your mentor and offload your worries onto them, reach out to them to help you to think through questions you have at a deeper level, and uncover the answers within. You are all resourceful, you only need the right space, curious questions and a willing listening ear to realise it.
3. What about my mentor, will they be able to get anything from the relationship at the moment?
This new situation is unchartered territory for everyone and no one has the answers. We encourage you to try to see your mentor as an experienced and trusted companion who is on the journey with you, rather than someone who is there to provide you with solutions and/or answers. Remember that they are there to listen and help you think through solutions, not to give them to you.
Your mentor may be going through many of the same challenges, feeling the same worries and fears and asking themselves the same questions as you are. We are all human. Be understanding and ask them how they are, what they are going through, how are they affected and if they need any support. This is one of the beauties of mentoring, mutual learning and growth.
4. As a mentee, what can I do now to make sure no one feels alone?
In these difficult times, we shouldn’t let each other be nor feel alone, therefore we ask you for the following:
- Reach out to your mentor today to let them know how you are doing and ask them how they are. Ask them if you can book a time for a mentoring conversation
- Reach out to your mentee peer group to ask for support and share your experiences with them. It’s an opportunity for you to realise the power of your mentee network and learn and collaborate with each other.
- Reach out to us at Mowgli to let us know how you are getting on and how we can best support you
- Give the gift of mentoring to others in your family, businesses and/or communities, it’s these gifts of kindness that we will remember when all the dust settles
Like others, the Mowgli Mentoring team is learning to navigate and adapt to these unfamiliar times.
How are we coping with working from home and supporting our programme participants during this period? We share some of our experiences here.