Episode 12: Show Notes
In today’s episode we will be discussing mentoring from a health perspective, the health benefits of having a non-emergency mindset, and dealing with trust issues.
Part 1: A Look at Mentoring from a Health Perspective
Mentorship is a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. The mentor may be older or younger than the person being mentored, but she or he must have a certain area of expertise. It is a learning and development partnership between someone with vast experience and someone who wants to learn. (Wikipedia)
A good question would be where can mentoring occur? We frequently see mentoring in the business setting, or other types of career focused environments. But, it is not limited to those settings. Some workplaces may refer to it with slightly different language. It may be called an apprenticeship, preceptorship, or it may just happen and not be called anything at all.
On a personal level, I have been both the giver and the receiver of mentoring. At times, it has been a formal arrangement and at times it has been more spontaneous. At times, mentors were provided for me while others I searched out on my own. Some I have worked with face-to-face, some virtually, and some I never met. That probably sounds a bit confusing, so let’s dig into this section a little deeper and I’ll give you some examples that may help you understand things better.
I have been a Registered Nurse for over 25 years now. But, I have had many different types of jobs within the nursing field over the course of those years. In each of those phases, I came in as the novice, in need of learning and growing. But, as time went on (usually about 2 years had to pass) I became highly proficient in those areas and eventually an expert.
In most of those experiences, I have been called upon to mentor nurses that were new to the type of nursing we were doing, or at least the facility where we were working. Most recently, I worked as a university professor for about 10 years. Often, I have adjunct instructors under my supervision that were hired for one semester. Most semesters I mentored one or more instructors that were either new to teaching or new to the university.
What I Did As A Mentor
Aubrey, Bob & Cohen (1995) speak of the five common techniques used in mentoring and I think you’ll agree that they make a great deal of sense.
- Accompanying – making a care based commitment to walking alongside a learner as they learn and grow.
- Sowing– planting seeds of knowledge early in the process. At this point the learner may not understand or accepted by the learner. But it will be needed at a later stage in the process.
- Catalyzing- when it’s time to give the learning a boost and speed it up. When the learner is ready to make significant changes in thinking or behavior.
- Showing– this is a technique used to make something more understandable. It can involve giving an example, demonstrating, or showing someone what you are talking about.
- Harvesting- this last technique is more reflective and involves asking the learner what they have learned. In a sense, it’s like collecting the ripe fruit.
I’m also an educator, so I do want to point out that although teaching is similar to mentoring, it is not the same. Teaching often involves a group of students, is limited to times when class is in session, and ends at the end of the semester. Whereas, mentoring does not have those same restrictions, and may go on for many years.
Non-Career Mentoring Opportunities
There are many organizations that allow mentoring relationships too. A few include Big brothers, big sisters, many youth groups, and peer mentoring for college students.
Receiving Mentoring From Others
I have also been the recipient of mentoring as well. There was only one time that I can recall where it was a formal relationship and I was assigned a person to be my mentor. She happened to be very good at it, very available, very knowledgeable, and we got along well. However, that was not a guarantee. Other employees at the same company were not as lucky or blessed as I was. So, sometimes formal arrangements work and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes there are attempts to match people who would be good together sometimes not.
One thing I read about that seemed pretty interesting was Speed Mentoring. Much like speed dating, speed mentoring provides opportunities for the mentee to quickly meet several possible mentors in an effort to find the best fit.
At other times in my life I sought out my own mentor for non-career focused purposes.
- Angele – my virtual mentor for website design and maintenance. We met online practically every weekday at a time when neither of us was working outside the home. She had been maintaining a Christian women’s website for and was helping me learn the responsibility. We never met in person, but we exchanged Christmas & Birthday cards and even spoke on the phone once or twice.
- Authors, Podcasters, Video Creators– there were also times when I felt a connection with someone I was not likely to ever meet and if I did, surely they would not have regular time to spend with me. But, that didn’t mean they couldn’t mentor me. There are several people who use blog, books, podcasts & video to regularly communicate high quality, helpful information. So I follow them in an educational, learning sense. It’s different from following someone online to see their cool pix, or cute sayings, or funny memes, this is for true learning. Not everyone wants it, but I did and still do today.
The Mentoring Health Connection
Now that we’ve talked all about mentoring, I’m sure you’re wondering what the health connection is here. The connection is that when we have a good mentoring relationship, life is better. When life is better, stress is less, we are happier, blood pressure is down, cortisone levels are down, mood is up, family is happier, and we “whistle a happy tune.”
When we don’t have good mentoring, it like trying to go up a crick without a paddle. It’s trying to write with your arms tied behind your back. Or shopping without money (or debit or credit cards). While it’s not totally impossible, it sure as heck is harder than it needs to be!
- Accept the challenge if you’re ever asked to mentor someone (formally or spontaneously). Provided you believe you can actually help them.
- When you are a mentor, remind yourself regularly that you are making someone’s life & health better every single time you make time for them.
- Don’t shy away from asking others to mentor you or to accept someone formally assigned to you during the process.
- If you can’t find live people who meet your needs, think outside the box. Find someone online, or find a great author and read everything they’ve got. If you haven’t tried podcasts yet, it’s time you look into getting a pod-catcher app and catching some great info. Or if video is more your style, check out YouTube for starters or just start googling a topic you either need or want to learn more about.
Dr. Terri’s Heath Tip & Challenge of the Week
Now for the health tip & challenge of the week.
I used to be a critical care nurse and in that environment emergencies were common. And the job of the nurse, is to respond quickly and then to act to fix the situation. Working in both intensive care & coronary care unit, there were all types of emergencies. We had clients whose heart stopped, blood pressure was critically low, or suddenly went unconscious. Other examples were massive bleeding (or hemorrhaging), sudden difficulty breathing, and uncontrolled seizures. While all of these can happen anywhere, they were a regular occurrence in the critical care setting.
When I changed career paths and went into academia, one of the first pieces of advice I was given was “There are no emergencies in academia.” This wise colleague’s advice to me encouraged me to slow down, think things through, and not feel like I had to provide an answer in the next 15 seconds. Sometimes things could wait until the morning, or Monday, next week, or even several weeks and that was alright. No one would die, no one would have a nervous breakdown, and everything was still good.
So my challenge for you is to do two things.
- Think about all the situations you have been in during the last week that were stressful. Then ask yourself if they required an immediate, emergent response or if a response could have waited?
- If you can find at least one thing that could have waited, pledge that the next time something similar happens, that you will give yourself permission to delay a response.
A personal example that often gets me stressed is when I get a nasty email. Someone jumping to conclusions, ripping me apart for something real or imagined. My “critical care response” is to email them right back within minutes and give them a piece of my mind and set them straight. But, my new “non-emergency mindset” is to wait to respond. Sometimes I sleep on it. Other times I might wait until Monday. But, if I’m tempted to react badly, need time to think, or can’t put my thoughts together clearly, waiting is usually the best thing I can do for all involved.
Part 2: Dealing with Trust Issues
In order to function well in life, we have to trust in the things and people around us. And for those of us who believe in God, we have to have spiritual trust as well. But I’m finding more and more that trust is disappearing from our world and we trust things more than people. Let me give you a few examples.
- Who trusts that the president of the USA is looking out for your best interest? I’m guessing that at least 50% of those reading would not trust him.
- Do you trust that difficulties in life make you stronger? When we’re in the midst of trouble we usually don’t think so.
- If you catch a family member or a close friend in a lie or compromising position, do you stop trusting everything they do?
- How about if someone tells you they did the best they could and they’re really sorry, but…. Does your cynical side kick in and you say to yourself, “sure you did, you’re not the least bit sorry.”
You probably get my point by now. Let’s talk about trust in things. Do you trust that the toilet seat will hold you when you need it to? (Probably). Do you trust that the gas that you filled up with at the gas station will make your car run properly and you’ll get to work? (Sure). One last one. Do you suspect that if you purchase milk with a use by date that is 7 days in the future that it will taste good and not make you sick? (Usually).
Why is it that we trust inanimate objects, policies, and procedures but we don’t trust that the bum on the street corner is going to buy a sandwich with our $10 donation to his health? Because when we’ve been burnt before, we expect to burnt again. When things have worked out well before, we expect them to work out well again. Our experience dictates our expectations, like it or not.
Overcoming a Lack of Trust
When we lack trust in people who are regularly in our life, it makes life much more challenging. It often affects our health too. Do you think your blood pressure and heart rate go down when you’re concerned about your spouse spending all the grocery money at the racetrack? You owe it to yourself to deal with lack of trust issues once and for all. Here are a few tips on how you can do that.
1. Deal with Reality
There are people who regularly let us down and they can’t control it. This includes drug addicts, alcoholics, people with mental illness, those with brain disease and more. You can probably bet that they will let you down, more than you can count on them.
You don’t need to feel bad about this, it’s not your problem. As a nurse, I have had patients going through drug or alcohol withdraw that cursed me out. They cursed me out so bad, I was learning new curse words during my shift. I didn’t get mad about it, I made sure they couldn’t hurt me or anyone else while they detoxed. We do this with medications, extra support staff, or physical restraints if necessary.
What we’re not going to do is get them to stop cursing, so we don’t try. So, if you have family members or friends that have extenuating circumstances that leave them out of control, don’t get mad just deal with it.
2. Accept the Human Factor
As humans, we all make mistakes for a long list of reasons. As a youth, I once tried to get out of a bowling alley without paying. I had the money, I just thought it would be cool to see if I could do it. Turned out my friends and I were not successful. But that didn’t mean I was untrustworthy for the rest of my life. That meant I was stupid youth learning an important life lesson. People can change and they do change all the time. So, give a girl or a guy a second chance.
3. Serious Issues Need Work
Not everything is as black and white as accepting or denying someone. There are also those situations where we want to trust but we just don’t know how. How do you forgive and trust a wayward spouse? What about a child you stole your money for a thrill seeking moment they couldn’t afford? Or an employee that has had 15 reasons why they couldn’t get to work on time this year?
There are times when a plan to rebuild trust is needed. Sometimes this may involve a professional counselor or spiritual advisor. Other times it may take ground rules and serious follow through. A few examples that come to mind are:
A. Sharing online passwords with your significant others to ensure appropriate emails are being sent.
B. Blocking certain websites from access in your home.
C. Limiting funds available for personal use in the household.
D. Storing valuables somewhere else temporarily.
E. Sharing phone records.
F. Sharing purchase receipts.
There are often things that we don’t even think of that would help build trust. Sometimes this may mean taking a risk. But honestly, most risks are minimal and are not likely to cause tremendous damage. And if you do lose out on a high risk situation, you will have the satisfaction of knowing you tried. Then you may be ready to move the individual to the non-trustworthy category until such a time as they can get the real help they need, if that is possible.
Aubrey, Bob & Cohen (1995). Working Wisdom: Timeless Skills and Vanguard Strategies for Learning Organizations. Jossey Bass. pp. 23, 44–47, 96–97.
Mentorship (2017). Wikipedia
- Have you ever had or been a mentor? How did it work out?
- Are you considering something an emergency that really can or should wait?
- Is a lack of trust messing with your life? Start thinking about how you can work on fixing this today.
Ways to Connect with Me:
Subscribe, rate, and review “Breaking Thru Health Barriers with Dr. Terri Wenner” in iTunes or your favorite podcast app so you never miss an episode. Always feel free to drop use the contact form on my website to send me your comments and questions.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.