Lately, it seems like everything in the world is happening at once. It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of deadlines, news, and the daily grind, and feel like we have to demonstrate tangible success every day. Research of human growth and development tells us that sometimes the best groundwork for cultivating relationships relies on slowing things down and creating manageable expectations. Enter that pesky little virtue, patience.
We know that patience is a good thing for us, like eating vegetables or drinking lots of water. But what makes it helpful in our mentoring relationships? As mentors we are playing the part of role model, so it’s up to us to display the behavior that we want our mentees to emulate. We want to teach our mentees that life involves not only our concerns but the concerns of those around us. Sometimes this means that things can’t happen on the timeline we first envisioned, or that the outcome we had hoped for might look a little different. This is an opportunity to teach mentees about perspective-taking and empathy, and how situations are often more complex than they may first appear.
Mentoring research also shows that patience plays an integral part in developing strong relationships and successful mentoring matches. Simply put, emotional bonds can’t be rushed. Being willing to sit in silence together and demonstrate both trust in the process and a commitment to the relationship go a long way in establishing a solid foundation in your friendship. You can make comparisons to your own adult relationships — your lifelong best friend or partner didn’t establish themselves in that role overnight, it took time for those bonds to grow.
As Seedling mentors, you’ve all shown remarkable amounts of persistence and patience through your mentoring journeys. Our mentees are relying on your patience to hang in there when life happens. In a society defined by so much instant gratification, we have to remind ourselves that slowing down to really be present for the learning process is extremely valuable. It’s not always just the destination that matters, the experience of the journey is where the true growth takes place. Remember that patience isn’t just the idle act of waiting, it’s the active process of perspective-taking, empathy, self-awareness, focus, and self-discipline. Honing these social-emotional skills as an adult is just one more way you can lead by example for your mentee and demonstrate the values of a growth mindset.