Friday, September 07, 2007

Losing Respect for a Mentor

No, I'm not going to name names.

I just experienced something yesterday that concerned/disturbed me and it got me thinking about the role model aspect of being a mentor.

I have many mentors. Some are personal mentors who I meet with for lunch or at least I can personally correspond with and can interact with them. Others are what I'll call "impersonal" mentors who I may never meet, but I learn much from them, their books, their tapes, etc. Examples would be John Maxwell, Zig Zigler, Jim Rohn, etc.

I'm working on a project right now that requires about 5 or 6 mentors (seriously!) and I need each and every one of them.

About a month ago I came across a guy who had some great teaching on business, personal growth, and matters related to being the best. I bought his mp3 series and have listened to it several times. I also subscribed to his e-mail list for updates.

Yesterday, I received his "rant" (That's what he called it as well) and I was OK with the rant and even though I disagreed with some of his conclusions, I fully agree with his freedom to express them.

The thing that really put me off was the prolific use of the F-word, followed by his announcement that he would be leading his weekly study group at his church.

In that moment, he went from a 10 to a 6 in my level of esteem for him.

I can understand and forgive a "slip" of the tongue, but this caused me to ask some questions:

What does this tell me about his respect for his audience?
What does this tell me about his judgment in general?
Is this being consistent?
Is this the type of person I would like to emulate?

Then I thought about some of the other people I mentioned above - would they do this? I know 100% for sure they wouldn't.

I don't expect my mentors to be perfect, but I do expect them to be good role models. I also really try not to be judgmental, yet I do need to exercise discretion. Some of my biggest mistakes have occurred because I didn't listen to my own sense of discretion.

Here's my lesson learned/reinforced - Give a mentor relationship time so that you can learn about their character as well as knowledge. You may learn that they have great knowledge, but do not exhibit the type of behavior that you want to exhibit. By the way, the behaviors can be much worse than the use of profanity!

Before you put your mentor on a pedestal, be careful. People do fall off those things! (That's what Bing Crosby told Rosemary Clooney in White Christmas, except he was talking about knights on white horses.)

I like what Steve Brown of Key Life Ministries says, "When you pick a hero, pick a dead one. That way, they can't disappoint you!"

On the flip side, as a mentor to others, it causes me to be on my guard about how I act and the example I set for others. Once again, perfection isn't the issue, but intent and judgment are critical things to model. It's painful to hear from someone that you've done something to hurt a mentoring relationship. Although I would want to know about it if it did happen, I would prefer it not happen in the first place.

Have you ever had an experience where you were "put off" by a mentor? Let me know in the comments!

Have a great weekend,