June 19, 2017

Great Mentoring Requires Both Preparedness and Adaptability

Last summer I learned the value of having a good mentor. I returned from maternity leave and was beginning to transition into my new role as a working mom when a promotion opportunity arose to move from a Deputy Director role to a Director of a division overseeing 14 attorneys and support staff. Determined to demonstrate that I could advance my career despite the new demands at home, I jumped at the chance. I got the job … and quickly learned that managing attorneys was more difficult than I expected, especially when balanced with the constantly evolving challenges that a new baby presents. I had to be patient and thoughtful with colleagues after barely sleeping the night before, carve out time to pump at work between a crowded schedule of meetings, and leave at a set time to pick up the baby from daycare. My daily routine was more demanding and stressful than ever before. When my younger sister gave birth to her first child, I knew I needed to be there for her too despite barely keeping my head above water. At the same time, I felt guilty about taking any time off so soon after returning from maternity leave and felt that I had to make up for my extended absence.

During a meeting with my boss and mentor, I mentioned that I was planning to visit my sister over the weekend to help with her newborn and that I may need to take a day off. She encouraged me to take however much time I needed. She told me that my sister would only have her first child once and assured me that the office would survive without me for a few days. She also suggested that taking some time for my family would be good for me and allow me the chance to decompress a bit. She was absolutely right. I spent several days with my sister and had some travel time to read for pleasure and meditate (two things I had not done since I returned to work after the baby was born). I returned to the office with a renewed focus and a bit more energy.

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