Unearth "the Dream": Mentor like Michelangelo

"Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it. I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." - Michelangelo Buonarotti


A mentor of mine once spoke to a group of us, saying "You came into the world as pure love, bringing with you everything you would need. As you went through life, you learned methods of coping with the different messages you received, and these methods became like armour around you." Like the sculpture above, the group of us had come to facilitate work to unwrap some of the armour, and re-engage more meaningfully with the loving essence within. I believe this is important work because, whatever purpose you aspire to in your life, our higher work can't be fully satisfying or effective if we don't experience and know ourselves more authentically in the process.

I remembered this moment while reading Johnson and Ridley's book, The Elements of Mentoring. In Behaviour #4, "Unearth the Dream," they argue it's our role as mentors to recognize the sculpture - the Dream - is already within our mentees, waiting to be uncovered. We must bring the clarity, humility and skill not to create it from our own vision but rather to see it for what it is, follow it, and set it free.

This requires you to have faith in your mentee's ability to create the reality they want. Yes, they came to you for your experience, your presence, and the trust and respect they share with you. No, they didn't engage you as a mentor so they could become more like you; they did so to become more like themselves.

Understanding how to support your mentee on their journey begins with understanding your own. What are you working towards becoming? How does mentoring support you in achieving that? What part of the mentee's journey can activate that for you? What part of their journey is beyond your reach, and all you can do is surrender influence and enjoy the show?

Becoming clear on these questions allows you to enter a true mentoring mindset in which you're not projecting yourself onto your mentee - you're staying humble, doing your own work, and helping them uncover the change they're seeking that already lies within them. Bonus: you're also fulfilling your purpose to mentor from a place of love for yourself, your mentee, and the greater impact that has in the world.

If you want to improve your ability and presence as a mentor, let's talk. Looking forward!