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Posted By - Frankie Bianchi
When I think of mentoring I visualize a agile mentoring journey through high & lows, lights & shadows where a person or group walks side by side with someone who has either already been there or who at least would know how to navigate the same waters in an expert way.
Probably biased by a week spent in Italy with my family, when faced with the task of having to think of a metaphor to represent today’s Deep Dive in Mentoring part of the Agile Team Coach Cohort Program (ICE-AC ICAgile) with Adventures with Agile the couple Dante & Virgilio came to mind as the poet moves from hell to heaven 😈 ➡😇
Something interesting is that while Dante is one of the most famous authors of literature of all times & his adventures have inspired all sorts of products, from Disney comics to Japanese fighting games, very few know about Virgilio, a master poet from the ancient Rome.
In fact like the best mentors Virgilio welcomes Dante at the beginning of his journey. When the poet is disoriented & scared Virgilio shares the light of his experience. He walks with Dante until the entrance of hell and all throughout gives him key insights that will allow the poet to go through all levels unarmed. As Dante resurfaces from hell and reaches the intermediate set of levels of Purgatory, Virgilio recognizes that he has now nothing to offer to his mentee who has acquired enough skills to continue the rest of the journey alone and so he stops where it’s his place, looking from a distance his mentee raising to a holy glory as he succeeds in his mission: regaining control of his mortal life and meet his beloved Beatrice.
Virgilio is to me the representation of the type of mentor that Rafael described in his “metaphor of the day”: someone truly experienced who stays behind the mentee while they walk the stage. From the backstage the mentor can help moving the spotlight on the mentee & can suggest to them where & how to move to maximize impact. They help, unseen, selflessly content to know that their mentee achieved the goal they set for themselves.
But this was not the only metaphor for today! David Lowe ‘ s funny nudge made us also learn that if we order pizza we probably don’t want to see delivered a lasagna, no matter how good that is. Which means: if I come to you asking for mentorship, no matter how much you truly believe that I can have all the answers within myself don’t try to sell me a coaching session. You may ask it, once, but then accept my decision as client.
Similarly, in regard to not imposing one’s views as mentor, one should think carefully 10 times before acting as if the client was wrong even if they KNOW that that’s the case. The reality is that you simply can hardly know what works or doesn’t work for the client. They are a different person in a different moment & context.
Even when rarely a mentor truly sees where and how the mentee is wrong, a good mentor should still focus on the person first & only later maybe worry about what problem they may have.