Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Monumental Mentoring Failure - Mine

A few months ago, after some very painful soul searching, I gave up on a mentoring relationship that I had sustained over a ten year period with a junior officer. I mentored my 'mentee' through a period of failure of selection (FOS), transition to a new 'warfare' community, and two promotions. We shared a great deal of pride in overcoming some serious obstacles to promotion and continuing a career. A few months or so ago, my 'mentee' was promoted a second time and didn't bother to invite me to the ceremony (and didn't give it a second thought). Was I hurt? You bet. It still hurts.

This officer and our relationship meant a great deal to me. I didn't realize that this officer was never IN the relationship. Is my bitterness showing? Sadly, yes. But, I'll get over it.


Sean Heritage said...

As usual, you nailed it. You are always one to assume full responsibility and accountability for and perceived "failures" in which you had any involvement at all (one of many admirable qualities). I offer that just as many (and likely more) mentor/mentee relationships fail because we do not teach menteeship. I offer the following thoughts...


General Quarters said...

You were a good Sea Daddy. That your Ocean Sprout is ungrateful and lacking in good manners is another matter entirely.

Anonymous said...

Very sad. It goes to show that those "proteges" who are at a point in their life who need mentorship, once overcoming those obstacles and moving on smartly forget where they came from.

I would also go to say that this officer who all of a sudden got amnesia about his mentor will not take the time to mentor someone else who was in his/her shoes.


Anonymous said...

You have opened my eyes. I have not invited previous mentors, COs, etc. to promotions or CoCs in the past. I looked at it as I would be compelling them to attend an event that could be perceived as "about me", and still saw them as the grownups on whom I didn’t want to impose. I hadn’t looked at it from the perspective of excluding those who got me there.

Anonymous said...

Captain Lambert,

One sometimes never knows what possesses an individual who was mentored by them to lose contact, sometimes for years. We must all realize that those we have attempted to mentor may not necessarily feel the same about the process they were involved in at that time as we were. And it is too easy to lose contact with the individuals that we tried so hard to bring to the degree of competence, reliability or excellence that we desired. We moved too often as Sailors from one station or ship to another and I have found that I have lost contact with many individuals, this was without regard to the closeness of our relationship. That went on for years in my Navy career. I was also disheartened by that fact, but, Captain, with the advent of the PC and the internet I have reconnected with many that I raised to be real Sailors and they have come from everywhere to ask, “Is that really you Ed Hughes I served on the USS ____ with you and I am pleased that I have found you”. You have found an outlet for your efforts by your blog, and I am confident that you will reconnect with more individuals than you would have ever expected, and amongst those individuals will be those that you have mentored.

Very Respectfully,

11 Steps to LCDR said...


Like the man lost at sea who prays to God to save him - promising to dedicate his life to Service if only he were saved. Gradually, as the man draws closer to land he alters his pledge to the point that when he finally crawls ashore he realizes that, "I did it all myself".

There may be a bit of that here or there may be a lot, I don't know the man. But too often I find that it is lack good manners and etiquette. Men today (not all of course) are less apt to say, please and thank-you; verbally or in writing.

What once was sign of education and social status, the “Thank-you” card is rarely sent from one man to another. If I am any example, I would be one of “what not to do.” I forgot to invite numerous friends to my wedding four years ago, partly out of the belief that they couldn’t make it and I wouldn’t want them to feel bad for not coming, but mostly I simply forgot them. As it turns out, they were incredibly hurt not to have received an invite.

When I retire in a few years, I will have to start a year out compiling a list of those to invite. I will start with those who have made an impact, made a difference, made me laugh, made me cry, made my life. Perhaps, I should start now. There will likely be many who will assume that it is just a courtesy that they are receiving an invitation, or perhaps they won’t remember me at all, but each will be invited because they impacted my life in some way. Sadly, I must acknowledge now that I will likely leave someone out that I should have invited but forgot. To paraphrase Hamlet, “Regret’s a bitch.”

Anonymous said...

I'm rather curious...did your mentee make flag rank? I ask this because I've very rarely seen guests (other than immediate family) at promotion ceremonies. Although I haven't made flag (and won't) I haven't had anyone more than just my wife at promotion ceremonies...not even my kids when they were young. I have had hundreds of people help me in my career...some more than others, and some probably think they helped me more than they really did. However, it has never crossed my mind to invite them to a promotion ceremony. It's not that I don't appreciate their help - far from it - but it hasn't seemed appropriate that I should.

My two cents...maybe I'm unusual but I've seen dozens (conservatively) of promotions within even the last few years and all of them have been very small and low-key (with the exception of flag promotions).

Maybe you're taking this too personally? Just my thought...


Captain - Special Duty Cryptology said...


The promotion was the final straw for me. Lots more to it than that. And no contact since.