Welcome to the second post in the Protégé Power series. If you missed last week, you’ll want to catch up by reading this. If you’re caught up, let’s get to it! When we left off from our last post, Sage was saying to you, the protégé. . .
SAGE: “Remember the other part . . . YOU have a responsibility to Dale. Now, go ahead and talk about it!”
YOU: “Oh, and Dale . . . there is one other goal I have for this experience. I want to do everything I can to make this a great mentoring experience for you.”
Dale looks surprised and noticeably pleased. He responds awkwardly, but is obviously moved. You suddenly sense this relationship just got bumped up to a higher level.
SAGE: “You’re doing a great job. This is going to work out! Don’t you think?”
Dale asks a few questions about your background with mentors, your reaction to this situation, ways to make this a good experience, potential interpersonal mine fields the two of you might encounter. The conversation seems to be going okay. Then, Dale shares a rather open, and surprisingly honest rendition of a former mentor who seemed to make every mentoring mistake in the book. Then, “What are your biggest fears about this relationship?” gets shot at you, like an arrow from an expert archer.
YOU: “Oh my gosh,” you think to yourself. “If I duck this question, I’ll sound calloused. If I answer as frankly as I think Dale wants, I’ll sound like a wimp.”
SAGE: “You’ve got to get your feet wet sooner or later. Take a chance. Tell Dale exactly what you are feeling.”
YOU: “Well, uh, uh . . . to tell you the truth . . . actually, I do have a few concerns . . . I wouldn’t call them fears . . . actually, I would. You’re going to write an evaluation on me at the end of this assignment. That tells me I need to always show you my best side. And I also know that if I’m going to learn anything, I’m going to look pretty stupid sometimes.”
Dale takes a deep breath and looks straight at you. You feel your heart racing, as if it just left the starting blocks of a fifty-yard dash. Dale suddenly smiles and thanks you for your candor. It seems he has been worried about the same issue.
SAGE: “See what I told you . . . candor is always the best policy!”
As you describe your concerns in more detail in response to his gentle probing, Dale listens intently to your responses. In fact, there are awkward pauses at times, separating your answers from Dale’s next question. This is certainly different from other mentoring sessions. You are much more accustomed to rapid-fire interrogation in which the last few words of your answer are drowned out by the first few words of the next question. Dale seems sincerely intent on doing a good job, taking the long way around before getting into the heart of your discussion. In fact, Dale’s wind-up seems to take so long you begin to wonder about the efficiency of this approach.
SAGE: “Let Dale know you are eager to get into the thick of the mentoring session. Dale needs your signal now.”
YOU: “Dale, I’m feeling really excited about how this session is going. I’d like to throw out a problem I’m having and get your thoughts on how I might handle it.”
Dale seems pleased with your enthusiasm to get things going.
P.S., The story will continue next week in the next post so be sure to tune in!