The natural tendency when looking for mentors to turn to people who look like us, think like us, or value the same things we do.
It’s easier, and often precisely how people are matched in some formal mentoring programs.
That can be fantastic.
On the other hand, what about seeking out a mentoring relationship with the person that REALLY frustrates, annoys and angers you? A nemesis who ignites and challenges you? Who questions your motives and assumptions? A person that makes you so angry at them, you wonder if you could really be mad at yourself. One of those guys.
And likely, more valuable.
In Greek mythology a Nemesis will “give what is due.” That doesn’t turn out so well in some of those stories. But what if what is due is just what you need?
I watch this dynamic at play in our church youth group. And looking back, a similar phenomena happened back in my youth group days (but I was too involved to see it).
Unlike school where you can pick who you hang out with; in the church scene, kids are pretty much required to do stuff with everyone and be nice about it.
The kids that inevitably drive one another crazy, can help each other the most. They think differently they care about different things, and often have something that might be missing or underdeveloped in the other. The growth happens when they spend time really digging in and opening up to one another. I have seen some amazing peer mentoring magic happen here, one on one– after the storm.
At work, we are all trained to get along, be team players, and work collaboratively to get stuff done, “you don’t have to like each other, just respect one another and work as a team.”
But what about seeking out the person that most annoys you in the group or organization? Of course, there is a 3.75% possibility that the guy’s just a real jerk. I’ve met him. But barring that, how about approaching that person with the Won’t You Be My Mentor? list?
Then, wait for the magic.