Saturday, October 29, 2005

Circular Logic

My circles mentoring group was the source of a lot of pain and reflection this week. We lost two of our most actively engaged members. One is leaving the company for a fantastic opportunity, and I don't begrudge him that at all. In a sense, he was my co-mentor, and I will miss him. Another simply announced via a one-sentence email to me that she is no longer interested in participating. Several attempts to probe the 'why' of that didn't provide any satisfactory insights, and I'm left to stew in speculation and self-doubt.

I suffered through a number of reactions to circles activity during the week: dismay, anger, frustration, and disappointment, for example. I thought about writing a letter to my 'defectee' to explain my reactions, but finally determined that while it might make me feel better temporarily, it wouldn't serve any positive purpose for her. Even though it was my sincere belief that we had mutually committed to sticking it out for the year, and that that commitment was there for a purpose, I understand that she needs to do what is best for her. It's that whole individual vs. the collective thing. In my opinion, sticking it out would yield greater benefits (for her) than quitting - as I'm learning now, there is value in simply keeping the process going, no matter how 'successful' we judge the outcomes to be . . . at least, that's where I am this week . . .

If she were to continue for another six months, it would give her a chance to stick with something that she committed to - a chance to build her tolerance for less-than-perfection. It would allow her to work through her own preconceived notions of what group mentoring is 'supposed to be' and perhaps come to some new realizations about her own responsiblity for creating a situation that better suits her.

Her 'defection' is causing me to question my own commitment. That's important for me to notice. I need to remember and hold onto my purpose for participating in circles, whether or not others do the same.

We reviewed our reasons for joining circles during the last meeting. Some of my original reasons were that I wanted to practice leading and develop a discernible leadership style. Well, I'm getting that practice! And while I may not particularly care for the leadership style I've developed so far, I can reflect on and improve it. And that, in a nutshell, is why I will stay with the group mentoring process until the bitter end. I hope there are some others who persist with me . . .


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