I recently read an article by Anthony Tjan entitled “What the Best Mentors Do.”  It contained many of the tried and true suggestions about the role of mentors and how to form a nurturing relationship, but he captured one element in a way that I had not considered before.

Tjan wrote that the best mentors “shout loudly with [their] optimism and keep quiet with [their] cynicism. He elaborated that the role of the mentor is to fuel the dreams and not to immediately jump in and ground them with realism. Tjan encouraged mentors to encourage exploration of “unconventional success” and to consider ways that the mentee’s dream could succeed rather than fail.

To achieve this end, he recommends practicing the 24 x 3 rule for optimism: “Each time you hear a new idea, spend 24 seconds, 24 minutes or 24 hours thinking about all the reasons the idea is good before you criticize any aspect of it.” His rule could apply much more broadly than to just mentoring; see if your world view doesn’t change by putting it into practice on the next idea you hear, regardless of the source.

Most would agree that the world needs more leaders, and one of the best ways to develop them is through one-on-one relationships. If you find yourself fortunate enough to be in a mentorship role, be generous with your optimism as well as your time and help your mentee achieve big in more ways than one.

Source: What the Best Mentors Do by Anthony Tjan, Harvard Business Review, February 27, 2017

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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