We all have composure strategies that we've discovered work for us. We've each found ways to keep our cool and put a lid on lurking outbursts. Our composure strategies get formulated to keep our hot buttons from being pushed. We find ways to placate our critics and neutralize our opponents. While trusting our composure strategies, mentoring poses a major threat.
Composure strategies argue for limitations. They color within the lines of a restrictive comfort zone. They frame what lies beyond as inevitably dangerous to the maintenance of composure. Mentoring argues for possibilities by playing around with what-if's, why-not's, and can-do's. Mentoring anticipates a second comfort zone beyond the confining one in use.
Composure strategies misread situations by trusting their fear-based premises. Opportunities look like real threats. Freedom appears as confining captivity. Taking responsibility looks like getting blamed, rejected or over-burdened. Taking time appears to be wasting time. Mentoring sees situations very differently than this. Threats are opportunities and confinements are freedom. These alternative perceptions disrupt confidence, certainty and convictions. The protege no longer knows what's what, how to think and which inclination to trust. The mentoring must provide a cocoon of safety during this vulnerable stage.
Composure strategies regard mentoring as abuse. The attention paid to expanded possibilities appears dangerous. The intention of mentoring appears adversarial. There's no way to let one's guard down, trust the process or welcome the input. Mentoring expects this reaction and routinely "de-escalates the adversarial context". Mentoring relies on speaking others' minds, acknowledging other's concerns and empathizing with other's feelings. By leading with understanding others, a different impression is created from the way "abusers usually act".
Composure strategies go into crisis when subjected to significant mentoring. The basis gets shattered for getting along with people, for getting good things to happen and for staying out of trouble. Treasured goals suddenly appear as fools' gold. Big plans get portrayed as over-confidence and naiveté. Familiar pleasures get pictured as empty, controlling or indulgent. Mentoring averts this crisis by trusting the protégé's process. Using what happens and learning from emotional outbursts moves through the transition respectfully. Instead of pulling the rug out from underneath the existing strategy, an alternative approach emerges from unexpected breakdowns in composure.
For these reasons, most people are stuck on a stance of "don't mentor me!". They assume they cannot handle it, don't really want it and have no use for it. They get to be right until they kind their composure strategy is no longer working. When they lose their idealism, the mentoring begins.