What Mentoring Young Adults Has Taught Me.
Issata was a go-getter even before she knew what the term meant and her dad will testify. He was the one who got bugged constantly, to help her get enrolled in special programs and after-school activities. She was getting well-acquainted with business attire at 14 and writing her own resumes before she turned 15.
Today, she credits a huge chunk of her achievements to a line of gracious mentors who truly want to see her win. Along with her job as an Associate Dean of Student Affairs, Honors College, she also introduces young adult women to the concepts of entrepreneurship, development, and financing.
Today, International Mentoring Day, Issata Saccoh Oluwadare shares her mentoring stories and the importance of preparing young adults for life’s realities.
Fearlessness will get you…everywhere.
I get excited when 18-year-olds walk into my office saying “I have an idea and I want to launch it. Here’s the proposal. Will you guys give me the financing?” They are ready and they don’t believe in ‘not asking for help’. They’ll take it where they can get it. Fearlessly. They are like “I pay so I can ask questions and you need to help me so I can do what I need to do.” Versus some people who might say “I don’t want to bother anyone. I want to show everyone that I can do it on my own.”
You either want it or you don’t.
Usually, I let someone pick me because I have noticed that some of them don’t value your time when you pick them. A mentee has to understand the value of what you are giving. I start out with “Come and see me if you have any problems” and the minute you show up is how I know that they really want it. I will make the offer but you need to show me that you’re serious.
‘Coachability’ is as real as it gets.
I also look out for work ethic and ‘coachability’. Sadly, some people are not coachable. They want easy answers and your connections and they are not ready to work. Working with young adult women is sometimes challenging because some don’t want to listen to anything that will make a difference.
We live online. Might as well get mentored online too.
Everything’s online and it is really a digital age. So it’s okay if you want to spend time listening and dwelling on messages from people you may only ever meet digitally. I have a few ‘online mentors’ of my own. Michael Hyatt who is a productivity coach and runs a successful company, Bishop TD Jakes, Joyce Meyer and Tim Ferriss are my favorite ones.
Sometimes what a mentee wants isn’t what they need.
Before starting any mentoring relationship, I ask them to complete something that shows me who they are. It also requires them to talk about those who have helped them along the way or helped them get where they are at the time. I don’t hesitate to share a bit of my story so that they feel comfortable opening up. This map lets me know the kind of mentor they need.
You may have to dig deep to find gold.
Some people desire deep mentorship and I can tell by the way they share their stories with me and I’m up for that if that’s what they need. I also meet those who are very transactional about the way they approach it and that clarifies things as well. There will be people in these two groups who will value your contribution. There will also be those who won’t.
Layers and baggage can get in the way.
There was one time I had to quit. This young lady would come drop by but it became clear that she didn’t really want my help, she just wanted me to make her life easy. It all came to a head when I tried helping her with something she was working and she lost her temper. Told me that I didn’t like her and that I thought she was dumb. She spoke of how she couldn’t go very far because of her background and city and how she couldn’t read and write (btw we come from the same city). She blamed me for putting her under pressure and so I had to step away. If a mentee is blaming you for trying to get them the very thing he/she wants from you then it won’t work. Sometimes there are so many layers and a lot of baggage.
One size doesn’t fit all.
A mentee has to know where they are going. Maybe not all the way but at least have an idea. And sometimes I dig deep and ask if I am the right mentor for you because if I’m not going to help where you need it the most then I can connect you with someone you can talk to. I’m not the best fit for everyone. I can only guide you on the areas I feel competent.
Do you have any funny mentor/mentee stories? Anything mind-blowingly inspiring? We would love to read your stories and maybe even publish them on our blog. Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
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