Mentors are an essential element to anyone’s personal growth. They are someone with experience who can guide you over new pathways. They are also the person who encourages you and they are the person that you trust to be honest enough with you to tell you when you are heading in the wrong direction. Sometimes mentors are assigned to you but in the long run, the assigned mentor will fade away if a certain level of respect and trust has not been established between the two of you.
I have been and continue to be a mentor to a fair number of young dancers, actors, choreographers and yoga teachers. I have also been mentored in both my dance career and in my yoga-teaching career. Here are a few things that I have observed:
- Some people confuse mentoring with being in charge. You are not in charge; you are simply offering your opinion on a decision that someone else has made. Your opinion is just that…your opinion. And therefore, no one is required to act upon it. Don’t take it as a personal affront if your mentee chooses another option. Just remind yourself: Not your life, not your decision.
- Some people confuse mentoring with parenting. If you want to control another human being, have a kid. Then will you get total control of someone for about fifteen years.
- Micromanagers should not be mentors. They are the people who want to control every aspect of the people around them and have no sense of boundaries. They are not good at the give and take aspect of mentoring.
- Mentees move on. Just because you were an awesome mentor at one stage of their life does not mean that you get to hold that position forever. People’s needs change and with those changes, mentors become redundant. Let your mentees go.
I had a yoga teacher who wanted to be my mentor but honestly it wasn’t going to work for several reasons. Reason number one…I didn’t like the way he taught. We all have our personal preferences and it’s important to connect with someone who you can relate to. Reason number two… I didn’t understand the single thing that he directed me to do. For example: “Be more mindful” Okay…but in what context? I tried to apply his definition of “mindfulness” for over a year, but when he still wasn’t happy, and because he was getting increasingly frustrated by what he perceived as willful inflexibility, I terminated our relationship. That’s not to say that his way was better or worse than mine, it was simply an oil/water oil moment…things that don’t go together. You have to be able to communicate with your mentor and if that doesn’t happen, it’s time to move on.
I treasure my mentors; those people that I seek out to learn from and to ponder how their views can enhance my own life’s journey. They are supportive, they are quick witted, they are brilliant and they are perfect for me.