Fear of Failure and Qualities of Mentoring

Jul 21, 2014
Tagged with: Fear of Failure and Qualities of Mentoring

I recently wrote about a challenge I experienced from a presentation I was trying to prepare for. I was frozen by a sense of fear, panic, and alarm. Typically I can set these negative emotions aside and proceed with what I need to do. In this one moment, I struggled. The state of fear and panic that I felt was not about speaking in front of a large audience, or having my technology fail, or just generally feeling unprepared. The fear I experienced was more intense and profound. At the time, I could not reasonably identify why I was feeling it. Research has identified and validated key elements about the fear of failure including:

  1. People do not want to experience shame or embarrassment, [1]
  2. People become afraid due to the uncertainty of the outcome, [2] and
  3. People do not want disappoint others, particularly people in recognized or renowned positions that have invested their time in a person or a subject. [3]

When I read a summary of research findings about the fear of failure and potential causes, my experience echoed the research. I did not want to disappoint people who had invested so much of their time and energy in my advancement and into my experimental walking program.

I also became immobilized by an oppressive state of uncertainty and questions and thoughts like:

Will I achieve my goal of walking without devices?”

“Should I be presenting about this?”

Following my October battle with fear and uncertainty, I can say, “I intend to achieve my goal.” I also have to admit that my future with the process of learning to walk device-free is uncertain and undefined. I have written about being pulled away from the fear of failure, which can be recurring, as a result of an effective mentor and leader.

I started to ponder what influences effective mentoring?

The first quality I encountered with my newest Mentor that October night was a sense of authenticity. When I sought support, I received it from a person who lived and projected their values, expectations, and truth. There was no pretense.

An article I read recently called “A How to…Be a good mentor” illustrated my experience with my newest Mentor. The authors of “A How to… Be a good mentor” succinctly break down the fundamentals of an effective Mentor. They pose the idea that an effective Mentor recognizes the needs of their Mentee in a given moment.[4] While I did not literally need to hear “applause” after my presentation, (http://blog.ncpad.org/2014/07/14/all-i-hear-is-applause/), the image of applause and acclaim reframed the circumstances causing my sense of fear.

The authors of “A How to…Be a good mentor” suggest that Mentors need to encourage abilities. [5] Part of this is facilitating goal setting and problem solving. This includes identifying and clarifying opportunities for success.

The “A How to…Be a good mentor” article also emphasizes the set-up, arrangement, and quality of the learning environment. In my case, the learning environment was not just a physical space. I discovered that a learning environment can reflect an emotional and spiritual space.  When I stumbled into the virtual forum on Spirituality, a person gave me a space and a place to belong—a space to breathe and recognize the position of promise and vulnerability that I was between.

I also received a gentle push. My newest mentor posed an unspoken question that I heard loudly in the dialog.

“Who says you are going to fail?”

I was nudged beyond self-perceived bounds as a result of effective mentoring and a leader that recognized my immediate need. My newest Mentor also provided an environment that fostered promise.

The last element of effective mentoring that I consider the most important is the communicated guidance from a Mentor to a Mentee. According to existing research, “an ideal mentor is someone who has the willingness to develop an ongoing and supportive relationship with a Mentee.” [6] “The Mentor also has the needed experience to provide pertinent and effective advice and guidance.”[7] Speaking from experience, the shared advice and guidance from a Mentor can inspire a Mentee and carry them toward their desired result.

Tell me NCHPAD Readers, what qualities and characteristics do you think are the most important on the subject of Mentoring?

 

 

 

 

[1] Conroy, D. (2004). The unique psychological meanings of multidimensional fears of failing. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 26, 484–491.

[2] Conroy, D. (2004). The unique psychological meanings of multidimensional fears of failing. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 26, 484–491.

[3] Conroy, D. (2004). The unique psychological meanings of multidimensional fears of failing. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 26, 484–491.

[4]Williams, Z., & Grant, A. (2012). How to…Be a good mentor. Education For Primary Care, 23(1), 56-58.

[5]Thompson, L., Jeffries, M., & Topping, K. (2010). E-mentoring for e-learning development. Innovations In Education & Teaching International, 47(3), 305-315. doi:10.1080/14703297.2010.498182

[6]Bloomberg Mark. (2014, March-April). The Role of Mentoring. Physician Executive, 40(2), 88+.

[7]Bloomberg Mark. (2014, March-April). The Role of Mentoring. Physician Executive, 40(2), 88+.

Author: Kerry



  • bobl07

    Thank you for this unique perspective on mentors. No doubt that this mentor has really have a wonderful influence on your life. Continued success.