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Mentoring Boundaries -When do we have to say STOP in mentoring

Mentoring the 2nd career

Mentoring Boundaries -When do we have to say STOP in mentoring

Are you a mentor who is tired of mentoring ?

“One day, I decided to start mentoring, and I aimed to mentor as well as I possibly could. But I got tired.


We have a goal, but I don’t see the result.


The problem is that in the meeting, we always jump between topics. The Mentee has many vital questions on that day, and I try to help them. Then I realize that the meeting time is almost over, and we haven’t even started talking about the topic that I am mentoring them.

Sometimes I feel that we are talking and talking, but the conversation is going nowhere. And sometimes, the questions are way out of my field. I can give them advice, of course, but is it really what we have to talk about?”


Do you recognize yourself? As a mentor or maybe as a mentee?


During mentor’s supervisions, we hear these stories way too often.

I mainly listen to it often from mentors who are mentoring their first, second, or even third.


If we have a lot of mentoring experience, we slowly understand that mentoring has its boundaries. If we agree on something, we should follow through with it.

Of course, it’s always good to explore other topics if you think it’s required, but it’s best to stop as soon as possible if it isn’t helpful.


Gary Keller and Jay Papasan’s book ” JUST ONE THING”  would be perfect in the list of recommended to read books for mentors and Mentees.


The problem is that the mentors want to help their mentees in any way they can. That’s why they sometimes understand just after some time that they are making no progress and that they lost their main goal and topic.

For some mentors, it’s uncomfortable to tell the Mentee that this is not their mentoring topic and that they need to find someone else who could help.


No matter how much we want to help our Mentee, it’s important to remember that if you focus on one topic, the results will be way better than covering a tiny bit of multiple issues.


When you focus on one thing, then you can quickly understand the value of mentoring!


One of the challenges the mentors face is putting up boundaries, making deals with the mentees, and following through with those deals.

Also, a mentor must be able to control the conversation, and when they feel that the conversation has changed the topic, they must be able to come back to the original topic.


For the Mentee, it is always important to remember that if they wish to reach a specific point, they often need not one but multiple mentors.

As a mentee, you will change on the journey of mentoring.

That person who could have helped you take your first steps might not be the best mentor for you in the future.

And the other way around. The mentor helping you in the future might not have been good for you at the start.

Why don‘t we look for mentors?

Sonata Mentoring Consultant

Why don‘t we look for mentors?

Doubts are stopping you from getting a mentor.

I have asked this many times people around me. Well, I asked when it seemed like a mentor could be who would push these people to move forward.


What were the answers to my question?


Well, one of the more often ones is where to find this mentor? Not some random one, but the one who will help me.

Another question is – will this help?


What else?

–          Will this mentor know how to help me?

–          How will I find time for this if I’m already unable to do some things on time?

–      Will I be able to be open? Can I trust the mentor that they don’t break our agreement of confidentiality?

I could keep naming more examples, but in all of them, there are a few fears.

We fear looking weak or uneducated.

We fear having to do something we always tried putting to the side.

We fear that we will succeed!


Yes, indeed, we are afraid that we will succeed. And the reason why is because it will change our lives. One way or another, we will lose something.


But how is the mentor involved in this?

To find a mentor means to take responsibility.

It also means:

–          We need to name what we want and look for a way to get it.

–          We won’t be able to dream of how we would like to change something, have something, be different, and do nothing.

When you find a mentor, you need to do something not just dream and talk but also take action. That is what and stops many people. The understanding is that you need to crawl out of everyday life and try new things or go new ways and that sometimes these ways will not be easy.

Yes, it will be easier to travel with a mentor to the finish line. However, they can’t carry us to the finish line. We have to get there ourselves.

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist.

Who was the first Mentor?

Mentoring Process 1

Who was the first Mentor?

Let’s look at a small piece of mentoring history

If you read some book or an article about Mentoring, I am sure you know that Mentoring originated from Homer’s Odyssey.

Mentor was a friend of Odysseus. When Odysseus left for the Trojan War, the Mentor was in charge of his son Telemachus. He cared about him, provided advice, was near Telemachus when he needed him.

So, the Mentoring process was therefore named after him.

Did Mentor from Odyssey was the first Mentor?

Yes and No.

The first Mentor was ATHENA – The goddess of knowledge, strategy, war, art, work, and a protector of science.

WHAT? ATHENA? But what about the Mentor?

When Athena visits Telemachus, she hides from other people around. So, she disguises herself in the form of Mentor:

„…So he spoke in prayer, and Athena drew near to him in the likeness of Mentor, both in form and invoice; and she spoke, and addressed him with winged words…“

„…Then Athena, daughter of Zeus, drew near them in the likeness of Mentor both in form and in voice…“



As Mentor, the goddess Athena encouraged Telemachus to stand up against his mother’s suitors and go abroad to find out what happened to his father.

She helps Telemachus see and understand not only what is happening around him but also inside him. She encourages him to develop the ability to evaluate and make wise decisions critically. Through her wisdom, she encouraged the development and growth of Telemach as an individual. Even though she advised Telemach what to do, she never told him to do anything.

Therefore, you can continue saying that the name mentoring and mentoring, in general, originated from Homer’s “Odyssey” without fear. However, remember that the first Mentor was always Athena.


I invite everyone interested in Mentoring to read the Homer “Odyssey” book again while focusing on the parts where Athena, Mentor, and Telemach are involved.

Enjoy reading!

Successful Mentoring Part 2

Accredited mentor

Successful Mentoring Part 2

What does the mentee expect from her mentors?


Last week I wrote about what do mentors expects from their mentee. So it would only be fair to discuss what the mentee expects from mentor 😊.

What do they expect?

I have asked multiple mentees this question while writing my master’s thesis on the mentoring topic, consulting companies, and evaluating their mentoring programs.


I received multiple unique answers. But after many interviews, one crucial point emerged:


 And that feeling appears when:



– A mentor takes the mentee’s situation seriously. He is trying to understand it, be in the mentee’s shoes, and, together with him, look for the answer.


– A mentor is preparing for their meetings. He doesn’t arrive for an improvised discussion. He analyzes the current situation before the meeting and considers what could be beneficial to the mentee and how he could help them.


– The mentor doesn’t transfer directly to his mentee his personal experience and personal thoughts. His experience helps the mentee decide how to act and what direction to take.


– The mentor keeps agreements. The meetings happen when they are planned. And if there are some changes, the mentee is informed early.


– The mentor reflects on his and mentees’ work, on the mentoring relationship. He also encourages the mentee to reflect on their relationship, meetings, results.


– The mentor knows the competencies he needs as a mentor. He evaluates them, and if needs, he improves in the field.


– The mentor, when first meeting his mentee, initiates the agreement about boundaries and later keeps to the agreed boundaries. Suppose the mentor feels that the mentoring is starting to go away from the original goal. Then he talks about it to his mentee.


– A mentor understands the importance of confidentiality and ethics.



I could keep naming examples 😊  But for this time, let’s stop here.


A mentor is not just a person who has some experience in a specific field.

A mentor also is a leader. It is important to remember that when diving into the deep mentoring waters.

What would you add to this list? What does the mentee expect from mentors?

Successful Mentoring

Accredited mentor

Successful Mentoring

How to get ready for mentoring as a mentee


In the past years, I find more and more articles about mentoring. That is delightful.

I believe that the number of organizations that welcome or change mentoring in their organizations is also increasing.

Mentoring is simple and complicated at the same time.

It can be successful and unsuccessful due to many attributes. However, this time let’s talk about the mentee. And how they can determine if the mentoring will be successful or unsuccessful.

What does the mentee have to do to gain the most from the mentoring and encourage the mentor to search for more ways to help the mentee with their vast amounts of knowledge?

What does a mentee need to know?

  • What do they need?!😊

Not just start looking for a mentor in a specific field, but first, make a list with answers to why do you need this mentor? How can he help you?



  • Do you need a mentor specifically?

You would need to clearly understand the differences between mentors, coaching specialists, consultants, sponsors, therapists, etc. When you are sure about your choice, then you can start looking for your mentor.



  • Who is your mentor?

A mentor’s experience in a specific field is essential, but it isn’t only one criterion for successful mentoring. Their personality and values are important as well.  While you pick your mentor, you have to keep in mind that you have to trust your mentor.

When you are matched with your mentor by mentoring program team, then during your first meetings, you should discuss everything that would seem vital for you both so that you could trust each other. If your first meetings are not going smoothly enough and don’t build up the wanted connection, you should immediately talk with the Mentoring Program Manager.



  • All “material” is what the mentee provided to the mentoring.

 The mentor needs to prepare, but he can’t do anything if you don’t give them information.



  • The initiative is in your hands.


You are the one who is motivated, organized, and cares about your mentoring relationship. You need to ask questions, share situations and your ideas. You have to help the mentor understand how he can use his experience to help you.

You have to prepare for your meetings and send information to your mentor that he could also do the same.

You control the mentoring relationship. If something not ok, you should talk with your mentor.



  • Keep agreements.

During the meeting, look for directions, share ideas, agree on what you will do. And then – do it!

Do you want that the mentoring will be successful?



If you are a mentor, what would you point out to the mentee?

Is mentorship supposed to be free?

Mentoring Process 1

Is mentorship supposed to be free?

To pay or not to pay:

that is the question

One of my previous blog posts has already mentioned one source on the internet naming off the differences between mentoring and coaching. The author pointed there that coaching specialists are accredited, while the mentors are not. (Not true. More about it in my post “How to choose a mentor? Accreditation).

Another difference the author talked about was that coaching is a paid service, while mentoring is free. Once again, not valid.

Voluntary / Paid Mentoring’s topic has already been sitting in my list of themes to talk about.  But it would always be delayed. Since I always thought, maybe I should not write about money.

However, today, after one of my comments on LinkedIn about mentoring, I received a private message that asked: What I thought about paid mentoring. Doesn’t it go against its philosophy?

That comment flew me to the past, in Barcelona.

In these strange times, only with memories and thoughts can I go there ☹.

The trip to the past

A few years ago, at an international conference, the speaker said that mentoring could be a matter of honor. Categorically.

 The room became deafening. For some time, there was even an uncomfortable feeling lingering in the air. That line changed one attendant. Later, when she asked the speaker a question, she also mentioned that she gets paid for mentoring and is proud of it. She does believe in mentoring. She studied it a lot, and it’s now her career. She is pleased that she can have the job, which gives her and her mentee meaning. Why does it have to be a hobby?

Let’s stop for a minute

This story happened because formal mentoring is only taking its first steps in the speaker’s country.  But a point of view has already been formed that mentoring is just a voluntary occupation.

In the attendant country, mentoring already has profound roots. There the approach of European mentoring started. Even in a university, you can study mentoring as your future job and profession. So, the view here is drastically different. Mentoring can be both a paid and voluntary activity.

But it depends on a lot of things.

Is this mentoring program in the organization you are working in or not? Maybe it’s a mentoring program in some project in which you are participating?

Recently I noticed more and more different mentoring initiatives for women. Their tasks are to encourage them to be more active in the business, in science, etc.

You have most likely heard of mentoring programs targeted at pupils, students, diversity.

You can find many mentoring programs dedicated to many different groups with different goals.

In these mentoring programs mentoring will be almost 100% free.


However, if you acknowledge the value of mentoring, you want to move forward in life, and you look for a mentor yourself,  it is very likely, that you will pay for the mentoring. But it’s not a rule. There are many different mentoring platforms in the wide world, where you can find mentors for free.

To pay or not to pay mentors for mentoring inside organizations?

If it is a mentoring program inside an organization, we will find mentoring programs where mentors are paid for their mentoring, and there are many mentoring programs where they are not.

Mentoring programs are, in many cases, a catalyst for achieving a leadership position. Even if for the mentoring inside of the organization you didn’t get paid, by participating, you got something else. You got the ability to improve your skillset. These skills are helpful not only in mentoring but also in leadership. Also,  you get help in all that process.

I have had encounters with both voluntary and paid mentoring.

Both of the encounters have their plusses and minuses individually. Deciding which one to choose, it is essential to know what the plusses and minuses are and understand and control them.

To understand which mentoring type is better  -voluntary or paid – is simply impossible. You can only decide which mentoring type will be better for the specific organization by studying its inside culture and possibilities.


Will mentoring be free, or will you have to pay for it depends on the country and its mentoring traditions. It also depends on whether an American or European mentoring approach dominates in the country. Are you participating in an organized mentoring program, or are you looking for a mentor by yourself? Are you looking for some concrete mentor, or are you just looking for any mentor in an entire field?

Once I heard such a perfect answer to the question, “Do you need to pay the mentor?”. The answer was a question “Do you want a gift or professional help?”. Both one and the other are good. Everything depends on what you need.

If mentoring is a gift, then you, as a mentee, have to adapt to the mentor’s abilities, and you have to be grateful for everything you get, even if your expectations were different. Well, it is a gift. We say thank you and smile😊.

If mentoring is paid, it has a structure. Meetings are regulated and happen at decided times; the mentor usually spends more time preparing, your goals are their priority, and so on.

In different life situations, we most likely need other mentors as well. Sometimes we choose a voluntary mentor, and sometimes we pay for his work.

I will be waiting for your ideas about mentoring. Your questions could turn into my answers in this blog.