Am I Being Crazy? Am I Being Stupid? Am I Missing Something?

Am I Being Crazy? Am I Being Stupid? Am I Missing Something?

This year we’re having a monthly series on mentoring. Head here to read the previous posts.

I find myself asking my mentors 3 questions on a regular basis. They’re not the most sophisticated questions, but they sure are helpful.

Am I being crazy?

I’ll ask my mentor Am I being crazy? if my experience seems to be completely different from everyone else’s. Everyone else adored that book, but I hated it. Am I crazy? What I really want to know is, Is there something wrong with me? I’m looking for validation.

But then there’s mad scientist crazy: When I have an idea that strikes me as brilliant–if a little far-fetched–I want my mentor to tell me which one it is. I want to send a birthday card to everyone who’s ever commented on my blog. Am I crazy? What I really want to know is, Am I out of touch with reality? 

Sometimes the answer to Am I crazy? is Yes, you’re crazy, let’s think of another plan. But sometimes a little crazy is a good thing. Good crazy looks like Yes, you’re crazy, try it anyway.

(The line between crazy and stupid can be pretty thin sometimes.)

Am I being stupid?

My mentor may recognize long before I do that the plan I’m currently on, the path I’m currently pursuing, the action I’m considering taking, is a bad idea that’s unlikely to end well.

That’s why when I ask if I’m being stupid, I need an honest answer. I want to blog about that fight I had with my husband. Am I being stupid?

Am I missing something?

This is the question I ask most often, and it’s no wonder: the whole point of having a mentor is that they know more than I do.

There’s so much I could be missing, and I’m looking to my mentor to help me to see what it is and fill in the gap. Sometimes I’m missing knowledge about the way something works, or a key piece of information. Sometimes I’m missing a certain kind of relationship in my life, or an important contact. Sometimes I need to read a book, or take a class. I’m looking to them to tell me.

The answers to this question can be really interesting. Recent answers I’ve heard from my mentors have included Do you know how much it would cost to ship that to Paris? and Did you know they’re sisters-in-law? and That offer is way less than the going rate; have you thought about countering?

In each case, the answer was no, and I was grateful for the input.

What questions do you ask your mentors? Are these 3 on your list?

mentoring-coffee-3-questions

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11 comments

  1. Jessica S says:

    I think the “crazy” covered it for me. It may not come out exactly that way though: sometimes it is “Is this a legitimate concern, or am I crazy?” Or, “Is it okay that I’m feeling this way about thus and such, or am I just crazy?”

    I think the second question that I ask a LOT is simply “what do you think?”
    Usually it is prefaced by a long introduction like “I’ve been thinking alot about such and such lately” plus a long detailed description of what I have been thinking about and then I ask what they think.

    • Anne says:

      The “crazy” question can definitely cover a lot of ground. I like your interpretations.

      “What do you think?” is an excellent question to ask a mentor.

  2. Tim says:

    I love those three questions, Anne, and notice that they are so interrelated as to be susceptible to Venn diagramming with a common portion for the three to ovelap one another. That means there are times when I need to ask “Am I crazy, stupid and missing something here?” all about the very same point!

    Cheers,
    Tim

  3. Rebecca says:

    I like these questions (especially that crazy one — I tend to be a three day monk).
    My money question is:
    “How would you do/handle this to (insert specific result I want)?” I’ve found my mentors are often reluctant to give “Do this!” advice, but will happily riff on what they would do in an identical situation.

    • Tim says:

      Rebecca, that is such a good distinction. One of my colleagues, now retired, acted as my informal mentor (and sitll does on occasion!). His son has the same name as me, so at times my friend would preface advice with, “Well, if you were my Tim, here’s what I’d say.” It was always worth listening to.

      • Anne says:

        Rebecca, that’s an excellent way to phrase it. A mentor can’t (or shouldn’t) tell you what you should do, but it’s so helpful to hear them explain what they might do in a given situation, and to hear their thought process on why.

  4. Courtney says:

    I am kind of obsessed with this series….Ok. I’ve only read the first post. But I’m kind of obsessed with the idea. I think I need a mentor….because I definitely have these questions!

  5. Laurel Bandi says:

    I am a mentor to several young women and I like it when they pump me with questions. I may not be able to answer them but just verbalising the questions makes us think and ponder.

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