I sit down with the intention of writing about my recent experience of being mentored and after two hours staring at a blank computer screen under a cloud of self-perceived inadequacy, I realise my fears are giving the very experience I want to share the biggest nod of “not enough-ness” of all. One of the most precious things I learnt during mentoring was that each of us has something hugely valuable to offer and at every step of the journey, it is more than enough. Not enough-ness, begone! Even so, it’s a tougher undertaking than I expected to describe something that feels as profound and expansive as the past six weeks has been.
So I turn to an ‘expert’ for a kick start: Wikipedia defines mentoring as the “mutually beneficial relationship which involves a more experienced person helping a less experienced person to achieve their goals”. Having been officially mentored now myself, guided by safe, beautifully intentioned and yes, more experienced hands, I believe this is an accurate definition of part of the process. But in my view, it misses mention of a vital element: wholeheartedness. Exquisite wholeheartedness.
Wholehearted because it takes courage to unfurl the vulnerable parts of yourself that empower you to help you to reach those goals. Exquisite in the sense that it is real, it is raw, it is powerful. Well, that was certainly my experience. Lucky, lucky me.
My primary exposure to the concept of mentoring when I signed up came from an old Seinfeld episode, so it’s fair to conclude I had comical and limited ideas of what it is really all about. I dived head on into the experience without having any real expectations about what it was going to be based on, what I was going to need to do or what I would gain but it turns out, I didn’t need to possess a precise understanding of mentoring to delight in the depths of this experience. Again, lucky me!
Of the many gems unearthed, there are two that stand out for me. They are special because they no longer feel like something I’ve only read on a page:
1) In the space of authentic trust, openness and acceptance, there is no separation
2) We all have dharma – our life purpose that lies within the very essence of who we truly are
These might seem twee but having felt their immensity as something other than a cognitive concept, I’m more aware than ever that I’ve never spent enough time in these spaces – disconnection and lacking a felt sense of purpose are far too familiar in my repertoire.
Now at the conclusion of this humbling, intensely rich journey, I can’t say I am a mentoring (or mentoree) expert by any stretch of the imagination. I’m not able to list the steps or tell you what would be the outcome for you. But I am sure that all of the unfolding over these past weeks is deeply embedded within me and it’s given me a stronger ground to move forward on.
The other day, I came across a comment in a random social media post that really epitomised what mentoring gifted me and why, if you’ve been intrigued to travel your own path through the process, you shouldn’t hesitate. It asked, “Do you want to know what it feels like to stand in your truth and shine your light? To know that it is safe, it’s possible, and you’re worthy to do so?” I honestly don’t know how many of us feel in touch with either of these questions and indeed, their answers. I know I didn’t feel an embodiment of either as much as I wish I did or as much as I deserve to feel before mentoring. It placed me gently, respectfully and lovingly in the right direction to know, and know more often.
Lastly, but definitely not leastly, I bow deeply to my radiant mentor and to the courageous, inquisitive and shiny travellers who journeyed alongside me. A potent reminder we are truly each other’s greatest teachers and in the space of the heart, we are all connected.