My working hypothesis is…

…when mentoring, be careful with the potential illusion that you are in the position to give actionable and appropriate advice. Instead, consider the value of inspiring your mentee to build the energy to find their own solutions.

I am not that much older than my mentees – 10, 15 years maybe. I am still pretty close to their work life realities since I worked a long time at the university in which my mentees study. I know the institutions, I know the people, I know several ins and outs – but I am still worlds apart from their individual experiences and challenges.

Just a few years sometimes make all the difference, not even to speak of the difference in family backgrounds, personal preferences, ideas, values, and so on. I am growing more and more aware of how limited my ability is to give sound advice. I am increasingly considering those who are particularly proud of their quality of advice with scepticism. This does not mean that I don’t try my best – it just means that I am giving myself about a 25% success rate with anything I suggest my students.

Where I give myself a 70% success estimate is whether it’s possible and useful to inspire my mentees. Most mentees show good performances, but they are rather hesitant – if not scared – of the passages of freedom before, between or after programmes that structure their lives. Many mentees lack the sense of entrepreneurial excitement to grab their lives by the horns and do whatever they see best fitting their values and understanding on how to apply themselves. Inspiring to rediscover the value in the freedom they worked for is – at least in my opinion – a much more certain contribution to positively impact the perspective of my mentees.

Too many consider instances of freedom a scary place. Let’s change that.

This is a working hypothesis. Obviously it’s not a be-all-end-all truth. What’s your take? Let me learn in a comment. Thanks for helping me learn your perspective!

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