Mentoring is a new experience for me because…well, let’s be honest…I only just now in my life feel like I may have something to offer. I’ve gone through an incredibly difficult period in building a company against an unusual set of adverse
circumstances, and I’ve been really disappointed by people I trusted, so that pretty much makes me “seasoned.” Up until recently and even now, I was always the one who needed mentoring. Unfortunately, I wasn’t ever able to fully reap the benefits of the people willing to help me because I am both blessed and cursed by being an entrepreneur.
As a mentor, there are a few things I have to keep saying as a mantra:
- I am not the CEO
- This is not my company
- I probably wouldn’t have listened to me either
So, now I have the unique perspective of being on the other side of the fence and trying to help others avoid the mistakes I made, and it feels a little like this….
Most mentoring relationships start hand-in-hand going towards the promised land. Everyone can see it, and we all want it. One of us has the land already surveyed and the other is just putting one foot in front of the other.
Suddenly, there is a huge canyon up ahead
The mentor says, “Hey, there is a huge canyon up there. Let’s stop and spend the time to build a bridge.”
The entrepreneur responds, “No, we can’t stop now. Let’s just deal with it when we get there.” To which the mentor responds, “Okay,” and starts to build a bridge anyway.
The mentor and the entrepreneur reach the canyon and peer down the steep side. The mentor says, “Don’t worry – I built you a bridge.” The entrepreneur responds, “I think there may be some opportunity down there, so I will just climb down.”
Mentor responds, “Okay,” and goes to find a rope.
The entrepreneur soon realizes that once he got down one side, he then needed to figure out a way up the other side. The mentor, after crossing the bridge and waiting, says, “Don’t worry. I brought you a rope – just climb up.” The entrepreneur
decides to climb up the canyon by hand just in case there is opportunity under each rock.
The mentor and entrepreneur finally meet hand-in-hand on the other side of the canyon. Both turn to reflect on the experience.
The entrepreneur turns and says, “I wasted so much time in that canyon that had no opportunities for me. I should have just gone across the bridge.”
To which the mentor responds, “Yeah, no shit.”
As mentors to entrepreneurs, especially first time entrepreneurs, there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop them from their mistakes because, as we all know, those mistakes are incredibly valuable assets.
The point is that on the other side, they just need to know how to build a bridge next time.
Posted on August 1, 2011