A Panic: Is Mentoring a Lion?

Gizem Saruhan
3 min readNov 3, 2023
Photo by Süheyl Burak on Unsplash

Imagine this, you are a bison and walking around the big forest with your fellas. On this beautiful jungle stroll, you turn your head to the right and see a lion. A matter of life and death. Your brain is saying: run! Keep that feeling and continue to read. When your manager writes you about mentoring, your brain automatically says: oh shit, here we go again. A fear starts to release in your body and your blood pressure increases. Cortisol levels increase just like when you feel your life is in danger. Here is an explanation of how panic occurs.

So, why is mentoring scary?
Like the bison I mentioned before when you are hanging out with your relatives, friends, and bison that you already know; you feel safe. Because there will be no surprise. Nobody wants to eat you. But if you see a lion, a different species that you don’t know anything about; you feel in danger. Because there is uncertainty there. You could be eaten in a minute. You have to be perfect, be master! You have to choose the right move quickly! You have to have all the knowledge!

Mentoring includes lots of uncertainty too. But, don’t worry, mentoring can’t eat you. So, you don’t have to be perfect!

What do we think mentoring is?
Mentor literally means guide. If you are better at something than the others, you can be a mentor because you have more knowledge. You don’t have to know all the things about the topic. Also, mentors deserve to be wrong too. You make mistakes as a mentor and find what the right thing is with your mentee. You just show what you did before, what you learned from them, and what difficulties your mentee may encounter. Nobody expects the perfect end. Whatever you know, is enough!

Be a mentor, not a teacher. Encourage them, show paths, give them keywords, and always be there for them. It’s enough.

Is the mentee the only person who grows during the mentoring process?
You can learn different or new things during your mentoring process. You can forget something and remember it again. Mentoring is not a tutoring class. It’s a chance to grow together.

I know showing someone the wrong path is a huge responsibility. But it could be a great moment to push your mentee to find the right way with their own effort instead of accepting every piece of information as true.

What about being a mentor for a mentee from a different culture?
Mentoring people from different cultures and different sectors should not be scary because differences move us forward. We don’t all have to be one-size-fits-all robots. Moreover, every culture definitely has something in common. You can find enjoyment in your discussion about your differences.

Being a mentor to someone older than you, someone with a strong mind, someone younger than you, your boss, etc… We can find lots of examples of scary matches between mentors and mentees. Nothing matters. You are not the person who has to have all the responsibility of the mentorship. You don’t have to make your mentee a person who has a growth mindset. You can’t change a fixed-minded mentee into a growth-minded one. It’s your mentee’s choice. You just show the best things to them with great decisiveness. The only thing that you should do, is show how. Understanding the mentee, and their personality is so important. Mentoring is based on analyzing them and preparing a unique plan for your mentee. After that, all the other responsibilities belong to your mentee. So, don’t be scared of being a mentor!