Last time, I introduced you to a few of the concepts covered in One Minute Mentoring, my new book coauthored by Claire Diaz-Ortiz. The reason we call our book One Minute Mentoring is simple: sometimes the best advice you’ll ever give or receive can be communicated in less than a minute. Here’s a little story about one minute mentoring that happened to me by accident.
A few days ago, I was chatting with a young woman named Rachel who works at our company when she mentioned she is preparing to go back to college this fall. I asked her how she felt about going back to school.
“I guess I’m excited,” she said.
“You’re excited! That’s good. Any other feelings going on?” I asked.
“Well,” she continued, “to be honest, I’m also a little scared.”
“You know, those two emotions—excitement and fear—are triggered in the same place in your brain,” I said. “So if you feel fear, try to think of how you can take that emotion and reframe it in a more positive direction. For example, instead of thinking of college coursework as something to dread, I think it’s possible that you’ll find it a lot more interesting now that you’re a little older. Think of all the things you’ll learn that you don’t know yet.”
“That’s really true,” Rachel said with a smile. “So if I reframe my own thoughts I can actually turn that fear into excitement. I like that idea,” Rachel said.
“Your brain will believe anything you tell it,” I continued. “So if you keep thinking about how daunting it is to go back to school, fear will continue to be your main focus.”
“But if I keep thinking about it in a positive way, I’ll start feeling the excitement more than the fear.”
“You’ve got it,” I said.
Rachel told me later that conversation was like a light bulb turning on in her mind. In one simple conversation that took less than a minute, her perspective on going back to college changed. Rachel and I don’t have any kind of a formal mentoring relationship, but in that minute I was her mentor and she was my mentee. I didn’t even think about what I did as mentoring until a few days later.
The best part about this story is what happened afterward. Rachel said the concept of reframing a negative emotion into a positive one was so important to her that she told several people at work about our conversation—and most of them were as intrigued with the idea as Rachel was. She took that small bit of information and shared it with others. Now who is the mentor? Rachel. And the mentees are all the people she talked to about reframing negative thinking.
See how mentoring can happen in just a minute? And you might not even be aware you’re doing it. Never underestimate the power of mentoring!