I woke up this morning unexpectedly thinking about a dinner I had a few years back. It was a good dinner but it had all been a set up. Let me explain.
There was this young woman who had worked for me for little less than one year. She was ambitious yet scared of the future. She wanted to go places but didn’t dare take a first step. She was a walking, talking, breathing conundrum. She eventually dared to move on to a new agency but we stayed in touch.
I try to stay in touch with as many past employees as possible, if in just a passing way. There are a few that I go on to become friends with and I treasure that. She and I emailed occasionally with no set pattern, rhyme or reason. Then one day, I got an email asking me if I’d like to have dinner sometime. When I see the phrase “sometime” I don’t really think it’s going to happen. I answered that would be lovely. I then starting receiving text and email messages so as to set up a specific date and time for dinner. I was surprised but found time to do so.
I arrived a little late due to some last minute report I had to finish. I arrived and we hugged hello. She then started to tug at my sleeve and I noted I needed to use the restroom. She looked disappointed. Upon returning, I barely had time to review the menu when she started recounting all her work problems. I frowned, internally. Did she want me to rehire her? This wasn’t a casual dinner get-together. She wanted something. I ordered a cocktail and appetizer. No dinner for me.
As she talked, I realized she was anxious for feedback and for someone to give her direction. She was lost in a sea of possibilities and I was to be her anchor. I was a little flattered. I also felt that I had been duped. I love mentoring people. Thats why I didn’t go into academia. Yes, you read that correctly. Although, I love mentoring I like to do it on my terms and for me to be generally aware that’s the transaction that is occuring. I provided the feedback. And look and behold she followed it all. It was quite bizarre to me. I can only hope my son will follow my feedback and advice so carefully in the future. And, I surely hope he won’t feel that he has to trick me into doing so. I willingly, happily, share my life story for the hopes of helping or inspiring others.
And just like most Americans, I have no problem providing my opinions. I wish Gallup would call me. I suppose it would help if I ever picked up my phone or gave people my real number. If you somehow manage to get a work phone number from me, don’t trust it. I always make it up. In all of my working years, I have never bothered to learn my work telephone number. I worked at a particular agency for 10 years and never learned my number. Does anyone these days? But there I go again digressing.
Back to mentorship. I like doing it. I actually listen. I’m a psychologist after all. Others like mentoring as well. Just be honest if that’s the relationship you want. It’s all good. Although, I don’t mind dinner as well. And again, text me. I don’t ever pick up the phone. Ever.