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Mentoring Can Be a Walk in the Park

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Maggie Sullivan (right) with her mentee Karen Goodman at the WISE Within NYC Metro wrap-up session.

Sometimes I find myself moving so quickly that keeping anything going — let alone relationships — presents a real challenge. That said, keeping relationships on track during busy periods with our careers and/or during the holidays, in some ways provides an opportunity for thinking out of the box.

For me, when I think of meeting with my mentee, I immediately think Monday through Friday somewhere between 9 and 5 (or possibly before the work day begins). That “thinking” may just add more stress during timeframes of very heavy workloads and during holidays (and frankly regular timeframes as well). My question is — why limit yourself to a traditional time frame and venue? Why not take a look at some less obvious ways of spending time with one another?

Here are a couple of examples of what might work and might also be a great way to have the time together pay multiple dividends.

Mixing up fitness and futures: I absolutely would be on board with meeting up with my mentee at Central Park (substitute whatever park might be appropriate) for a walk around the reservoir or the park in general. I could see this time as a terrific opportunity to talk, get to know one another better and catch up on what has been going on. The outdoors, the low-stress environment, the low-distraction environment all contribute to a win-win situation and to time well spent together.

Meeting up in the “neighborhood”: What about meeting on a weekend for a coffee or lunch over a holiday period? Once again, this works best when you and your mentee live in the same geographic area. But, as previously stated, getting out of the usual space when meeting may bode well for all of us.

These ideas will create a gentle shift away from the work week demands of time and place, and separate your mentor-mentee relationship from the day-to-day stress of the office. You’ll have a far better chance to focus your mentoring relationship on the here and now, as opposed to wondering how many unread emails have landed in your inbox since the conversation started. And that seems to be a win-win for both of you.

Margaret Sullivan

About Margaret Sullivan

Maggie Sullivan is a sports marketing “lifer," with extensive career experience in men's professional tennis and women's triathlon. She is Partner/Owner at The Xxtra Mile LLC, a girls and women's active lifestyle company, and Director of the Danskin and Trek Women Triathlon Series.

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