May 2015 PATHtips™

Thoughts on Mentoring Series – Part 3

Get and Give Support -Stress ReliefEQUIP versus ENABLE

Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him, and to let him know that you trust him.  –  Booker T. Washington

 Authentic Relationship.  Shared expectations.  Trust another person that they are capable of achieving (fill in the blank).

What did you think when you saw this post was about establishing healthy boundaries in a mentoring relationship?  I love definitions – #SemanticsMatter.  When I look up the meaning of a word that I use regularly, it amazes me how my perspective impacts the limitations I place on meaning.

 Dr. Karen Khaleghi stated “in one sense, “enabling” has the same meaning as “empowering”. . . however, it has developed the specialized meaning of offering help that perpetuates rather than solves a problem.”   Published Jul 11, 2012 in The Anatomy of Addiction

 Webster’s dictionary defines boundary as “something (such as a river, a fence, or an imaginary line) that shows where an area ends and another area begins;  a point or limit that indicates where two things become different.”  The words that come to mind are LIMIT, CONTROL, INFLEXIBLE… not really words associated with a mentoring relationship that is meant to encourage, support and uplift.

Then I found this…

 “Boundaries represent awareness, knowing what the limits are and then respecting those limits.”   – David W. Earle

  •  Awareness communicates my trust in my mentee’s ability to accomplish their objectives.

Why is trust important?  Think about who you are and what you are like.  Who can tell you when you are “not quite on your game” or “able to celebrate a hard won victory”?  Someone you just met?  Or, is that person generally someone you respect AND trust.  Building a relationship with both respect and trust requires time as well as an understanding that neither person is less than able.  There is no deficit that I fill.  Rather, I have a set of experiences that may assist my mentee by informing, providing ideas and tools, and my remaining available through the ups and downs of decisions.

  •  Awareness helps direct my actions with my mentee so that I focus on equipping them with tools, resources and support rather than enabling them. 

In an enabling relationship, dependence and inequality form a foundation of expectation that the mentor has the answer, the value, the valid way of doing an action.  Where does accountability fall when failure occurs?  If I only receive a fish to eat today OR even a fishing rod and taught to fish – how does that assist me if I do not live by water?  If I am hungry, please help me to eat.  But, moving forward, what happens if the water in my environment is so polluted that to fish there would be life-threatening?  Awareness focuses my actions on what is presented; validating resources present and offering additional tools to expand opportunity.

  •  Awareness strengthens the ability to acknowledge my understanding of how the world works and actively open myself to the resources my mentee possesses.

In an equipping relationship, I bring my experiences to the table.  However, both my mentee and I bring the same VALUE.  We both have resources.  I learn from them.  They learn from me.  We share.  The tools and wisdoms experience has afforded me are shared – direction encouraged – and respect for decisions and consequences embraced. In doing so, my mentee has the opportunity to succeed and fail as their actions dictate.  Self-esteem, self-respect and personal accountability increases.  It is  powerful and comforting knowing someone is in your corner, no matter what – someone willing to encourage, support and uplift without invalidating your resources.

 The willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life is the source from which self-respect springs.  – Joan Didion

 We are more than mentors… we are Hope Relationships™:  people, places and opportunities that move us forward and push us back.  We need them both.

Be Well!  Ms. Patricia

PS: Click here to learn about PATHworks!™ Hope Relationship™Experiences for families, individuals and agencies.

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