A few weeks ago, my mentoring group had our Commencement Retreat (you can read about it here). Afterward, I spent some time reflecting on our season and asking myself what went well and what could have been better. Part of asking what could have gone better was unpacking where didn’t things go according to plan and why.
At the beginning of the season, as my co-mentor and I formulated our plan, we downloaded our Mentor Binders off the Known Collective website. The Known Collective Mentor Binders provide everything you need to lead throughout your mentoring season in one document. They outline the flow your season will follow and help you know how to facilitate each meeting. It’s a great resource and an excellent guide during your mentoring season, especially for the type-A’s like me who like to know where they’re headed.
But even when you have a great plan, things rarely go according to plan.
Our first deviation from the plan came after discussing our calendars at the Kickoff Meeting. We quickly realized that our First Meeting and Story Retreat wouldn’t have as much time in between as we would have liked. To accommodate everyone’s schedule, we would only have ten days between them, which wasn’t enough time to follow the plan we’d laid out.
Knowing the importance of the Story Retreat and the amount of time our group would need to prepare their stories, we made some changes. This gave me the chance to do what I’ve coached many mentors on… don’t be afraid to adapt to the needs of your group.
For our mentees, reading a book in less than ten days, along with their other homework, wasn’t a feasible option. So, instead of a book, we assigned a podcast. It felt like a considerable change at the beginning of the season, but we knew it would set our mentees up to win in this situation. And as it turned out, the insight they gleaned from the podcast provided quality discussion at our retreat.
Later in our season, we faced another opportunity to veer off plan. This time, we saw it coming. And it gave me another chance to follow my own advice and meet the women in my group where they are.
As we spent time listening to these women throughout our time together, two topics made their way into many of our conversations: thought life and body image. So, even though it meant dropping two other important topics, we decided to incorporate these two topics based on what we heard in the hearts of our mentees. In doing so, we were able to meet them on a deeper and more personal level.
Looking back, if we’d stayed precisely to our original plan (which was and is still an effective plan), I’m not sure our season would have ended as well as it did.
Meeting the needs of your mentees looks different for every mentor. Following the plan we’ve laid out may be exactly what you and your group needs, and that will always be my recommendation. But at the same time, you know your group best, and if shifting the plan to meet them where they are is what you need to do, then I highly recommend you do so because you never know the conversation or the life-change that hangs in the balance.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, open my eyes to the needs of the women You have placed in my group. As they share their hearts, I pray You would give me ears to hear them and the courage to respond in love. Thank You for the opportunity to serve You in this way. Amen.
P.S. If you want to talk more specifics about how you may need to adjust your plan to meet the needs of the women in your church, I’d love to talk with you. You can view my calendar and find a time that works here: rdcl.co/connect-with-kristen.
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