Updated: Mar 6, 2022
Author: Radonda Rowton, LPC
So, I had a question yesterday. Not a shock for the people who know me, because I often have a lot of questions. But this question was different.
1. It was a tough question
2. It was a professional question
3. It wasn’t a question that I could just trust anyone to answer.
My question was about drawing a line between my belief system and my professional opinion. If I listen to my gut, then my gut had better be ethical and honorable. After all, according to the State of Missouri, what I say to people matters, and I feel the huge responsibility to make sure that I’m not setting anyone up for failure. So, I was already in a conversation with a mentor that I trust, so I asked the question. Keep in mind, I had been wrestling with this for days. But I felt that this was the right time to approach this subject.
I have 3 people in my professional life who I consider smarter than I am. There are far more people out there who are smarter than me, but there are few that I trust. Trust is a big deal. One of the things that this wise person said to me yesterday was, “Trust is earned and precious. When trust is broken or shaken, it is powerful enough to break a relationship.” We could all testify to how painful it is to share something with someone who doesn’t value trust. It’s usually a traumatic experience that no one wants to experience again.
I want to stop right here and get to the heart of why I am writing this blog. Over the years, I have realized how much we really need mentors, confidants, advisors…whatever word you choose to use, that will walk with us on this journey of life. Why? Glad you asked….
· We need perspective from someone outside of us. I say this to clients on a regular basis. It is a CBT principle. Not every thought that we think is true. If we rely on our own perspective, we can set ourselves up for failure because if we have filtered our thoughts through our issues, they could very well be jaded and incorrect.
· Great mentors often serve as a sounding board during times when we are at a crossroad and are not sure what to do. It would be great if we had all the answers, but the truth is that we don’t. There are times when we suddenly realize that there is risk involved with the choice that we are about to make. We need someone who can hear us out and help us process what is at stake.
· A great mentor will alert us when they feel that we may be wrong. Not everyone’s advice is correct, but if we have someone in our lives that we know cares for us and wants the best for us, they will tell us the truth and then leave it on the table for us to process and decide. I have told people the truth, who did not appreciate my opinion. But I have also learned that I can have no ownership in what they choose to do with my advice. I don’t live their life, they do. I will be there for them whatever decision they make.
It's turned out to be a relief for the both of us.
· There needs to be someone in our life that will help us improve. So often, it is easier for someone outside of ourselves to see where we need to improve. A person who takes the time to get to know us will eventually understand our strengths and our weaknesses. Often this person will play a crucial role in helping us become a better version of ourselves.
· A great mentor is not a judge and jury. If you consistently feel judged, your relationship is not mentor/mentee, it becomes parent/child. Your parents were your first mentors, you don’t need a parent, you are asking for advice, not discipline. A great mentor will not disregard your ability to make decisions, they are there to help see different perspectives to the decision that you are in the process of making, not to make the decision for you.
· Sometimes we don’t have any big decisions to make, but we often just need motivation. A great mentor can often provide the much-needed encouragement and motivation that we all need from time to time. A few studies have established that no matter how well established that we may be, we all still require a little bit of encouragement and motivation from time to time. A great mentor helps to do just that, and with the right amount of motivation, we should be able to complete the task before us.
My encouragement to you today, is do not try to walk this journey alone. It’s too hard. We need each other. Don’t just find a mentor…find a great one. That someone who is wise and is in your corner and wants the best for you. Make sure that they talk you up and not down. Make sure they keep your confidences close to them because they value your trust. You will be a better person when you feel heard and valued…it really is worth it.