Whenever I faced a challenge, I thought talking to one of my colleagues or my manager does the job. But let’s face it, by instinct we tend to choose people that tick in a similar way and don’t truly challenge us. Joining a mentoring circle made me step out of my comfort zone. Mentoring is based on trust, openness, honesty and authenticity. Since talking to the people I work with every day has helped me to make some progress with some of the challenges I faced, I was looking to make a bigger step.
I joined one of the mentoring circles at the adidas Group to explore how the perspective of people I barely knew would influence my decision-making.
That’s why I don’t go to my sessions for the sake of showing up. I am committed because my circle members are too. We are all in it together and share our true stories. The group does not judge and there is no right or wrong. Everything happens on mutual ground and understanding of each other’s thinking.
A sparring partner with empathy
Going the easy way won’t make you move out of your way. Don’t take lively discussions personal. Only being challenged allows you to think about different perspectives, will help you recalibrate and, as a result, grow personally. A strong sparring partner will try to take on a different view and will also help you understand the various options that are there. A strong circle challenges you on your opinion every once in a while. This does not mean you are right or wrong. Be prepared to get candid and honest feedback, which I personally perceive as a great gift and helps me to make better decisions. At the same time, your circle will always show empathy for your situation.
Embrace diversity to extend your network
A mentoring circle usually is a diverse group and ideally consists of colleagues working in different departments or even functions. Here at adidas, we also have the pleasure to work with colleagues from several nationalities and multiple generations all in one place. This is an amazing opportunity to get to know colleagues you might have never met otherwise. I believe it helps you in various ways. For instance, you can extend your network which naturally helps you to do a better job. It also improves your learning curve about how other departments contribute to the overall success of the company. Diversity always teaches you something – this might just be tiny aspects, but you learn to embrace them.
Not having an answer is ok
I always thought I have a very good perception of situations and topics. But it is always worth taking a different perspective. My circle members always ask questions. These arise from their perspectives and opinions. They always give me something to think about and it’s fine to not have an immediate answer but points to think about.
Talking helps finding solutions
Sounds easy but sometimes it is not. Imagine you are dealing with a challenging situation – professionally or personally, we are free to ask each other for support or opinions – and sometimes, after phrasing the issue, it’s not as big anymore. We are committed to build each other up when times get tough.
Overall, mentoring is not at all a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength, because it takes courage to step outside of your comfort zone.
Mentoring makes me better in a fun and engaging way. We never leave out the fun part when we meet. We laugh a lot when we get together. For me, my circle is a massively personal enriching experience for which I am personally very grateful – mainly because we are all role models for each other.