Creating big change through small-step mentoring

In their book, The Elements of Mentoring, Johnson and Ridley write about Behaviour #10: "Successive Approximations." When working with a mentee, this means identifying their greater goal and then reinforcing the smaller steps they take towards gradually achieving it. Without successive approximations, our mentees become discouraged and disempowered from meeting that greater goal, not realizing they're getting closer to it with every step.

This reminds me of seeing Seth Godin speak in Toronto several years ago. One of the moments I still carry with me is when he talked about trying to change the world as a cop-out. Essentially, if I allow my mentee to set unrealistic goals they can't possibly achieve, the impossibility of the goal becomes their excuse for not holding themselves accountable for success. By supporting my mentee to set realistic goals which, as they achieve them, bring them gradually closer to their greater goal, I'll have helped them not only to achieve their goals, but to expand their ability to create change in their lives.

It's a disservice to expect change to happen only once we've gone around the next corner or hit the next target. That's the cop-out I heard Seth talking about. Of course, the work I do with every client begins with envisioning the greater goal. And, the work itself is about the change you create with your very next step. No, you're not around the next corner yet, but you're not responsible for the corner yet! You're responsible for the next step. With each step you take, you eclipse where you were before, bringing what was a distant goal more and more within your ability and your responsibility. In ourselves and in our mentees, Entry means creating the change we desire in every moment, and recognizing that change is happening in successive approximations.

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