From Mentor to Mindguide

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(Expect a full chapter soon on Mind-guiding – or mutual exchanges where all learn and all teach – as an invited chapter to an international book on mentoring with Wiley Publishers). Both  experts and upstarts claim to see unlimited potential in shared wisdom. Yet seasoned mentors too often advise clever cronies to operate much like themselves, with little regard for rapidly changing horizons.

Mind-guides Invite Mutual Mentoring

From Mentor to Mindguide

Few would disagree – it’s time to shift tutoring approaches to reflect more balanced and reciprocal coaching. Guidance based on mutual brainpower potential, and experience from differences, rather than on entitlement, age or seniority.

In my capstone management course, Lead Innovation with the Brain in Mind, one newly  coined term – mindguiding – changes the management structure of any organization. How so?

Mind-guiding, defines a reciprocal learning-leading process, that highlights neural pathways to innovative results. It’s a new way to lead big ideas, and learn new talents at the same time. It sidesteps moodiness of a few senior players, but supports serotonin-led innovations at many levels.

Using 10  tools below – mind-guides set a mutual stage for clever results across differences.


New neuro-discoveries change the roles of mentors from sage-on-the-stage mentality into more of a mindguide to the side, who comes to teams in learning or discovery roles. Just as mindguides see their role less as lecturer or talker, they also listen with their brains – in ways that open new opportunities for those they support.

1. Focus on gender preferences and interests:  According to researcher Dr. Michael Phillips, a neuroradiologist at the Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, brain scans showed that men listen to language which is located in the left brain, for instance, while women use both sides, including the right brain’s more creative capabilities. Dr. Robyn McMaster points out that women or men lead better – when they focus in novel ways, on engaging others’ interests. Mindguides value men, value women – and facilitate both – while mentors tend replicate old boy practices to include female brainpower.

Suggested Brainpowered tool: Vary communications – seek out people who differ from youso that novelty enters the mix in ways that teach both genders. New research about novelty’s power for mental growth shows how original ideas offer positive experiences to those who take advantage and learn from differences.

2. Technology changes how brains learn and how mindguides lead: Digital sound bites shift topics frequently,  and allow for specific searches on multiple topics. These new learning practices also rewire brains to catch brief bits of significant information, rather than remain focused for long periods on any one detail. Technology, however,  offers challenges to mindguides not familiar with digital approaches and their impact on brainpower.

Suggested Brainpowered tool: Sketch diagrams to link abstract or boring technology ideas onto something already known or experienced. New mechanical ideas make more sense to you when mindguides hook complex concepts onto familiar or concrete experiences. Links and bridges help mindguides to advance from difficult or boring digital information in ways that accommodate new innovations.

3. New digital imaging devices prove that listening changes the brain when acted upon. Imaging such as PET, fMRI, and magnetoencephalography (MEG) generate interactive images to show the anatomy of the brain. They also show brain operations involved in listening. Listening operates from three regions of the brain that support how we listen and how we learn to listen better by acting on what we hear.

Suggested Brainpowered tool Brainpowered tool: Apply one technical insight learned so that brainpower increases and multiple intelligences expand in the interactive mindguide active listening process.  Wisdom

4. Mindguides identify familiar features to highlight big picture: By observing cortical activity when people hear words researchers are beginning to see how people categorize words they hear. The back half of the brain’s cortex is devoted to recognizing familiar patterns, such as a cat’s meow, a baby’s cry or a familiar business brand.

Suggested Brainpowered tool: Brainpowered tool: Ask, ask, ask! Question with two feet to draw out unique contributions, that become doable big picture solutions for stubborn real life problems.

5. Mindguides apply what’s learned, with more focus on listening: while mentor hearing differs- is more  automatic, and can be less effective. Modern brain images show that when you really focus on listening, you engage areas in the prefrontal cortex.  This area of your brain organizes and prioritizes what you hear, and stokes actions that as Fuster (2003) points out, allows you to use what you hear to interact with the world. Focus helps you to create meaning by holding what you hear in your working memory, match it up with what you already know, and predict what to do with what you hear.

Suggested Brainpowered tool: Mindguides apply what’s learned in ways that embrace differences, such as gaps between genders, or differences between an ethical and unethical worker. It may simply be distinctives between different rhythms in background music at work. Mindguides capitalize on differences to discover and lead innovative directions for renewed results.

6. Music or speech impacts emotions, impact moods in ways that motivate people, and can add to focus for mindguiding. Great music, such as baroque  stimulates the brain to listen more effectively. To ensure good attention, it’s important to offer multiple ways for people to recognize parts of what is communicated. When print dominates a culture, for instance, learning skills can begin to  fade. With new social media, variety however, has escalated.  New media and technologies such as ipods or even the web – have increased people’s listening capabilities, and raised its importance.

Suggested Brainpowered tool: Mindguides seek advice about ideal learning settings from diverse leaders you admire, and act on advice received. In so doing, mindguides engage the plasticity that reshapes human brains to  advance in multiple ways.

7. Mindguides communicate with tone that connect growth to emotions so that new insights stick. Other advantages are given when interactivity is possible, so that mindguiding experiences link to people’s unique preferences. Learning depends on levels of commitment and also on developing expertise and talent to communicate with tone often seen in innovative mindguides.

Suggested Brainpowered tool: Mindguides step back from heated situationstame an amygdala, and hear heated issues through the other person’s perspective.

8. Awesome rewards come from mixing in different communication approaches. Researchers found that some music genres offer the same kind of pleasurable learning experiences as food, drugs or sex, for instance. The enjoyable act of engaging music – releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter connected to pleasurable rewards. The key is to create a pleasant setting for every mindguiding session.

Suggested Brainpowered tool: Mindguides laugh at themselves– yet run from cynicism, that brings cortisol. They focus more than most mentorships – on spreading serotonin chemicals. Serotonin and other neurotransmitters for well being support mindguides’ learning and leading skills. Do you see similar approaches in typical mentor programs?

9. Social media offers more integrated views on mindguiding  topics.  For that reason, a wider and more integrated approach has altered what people come to crave in the kind of opposing views presented by radio stations such as NPR in the US or CBC in Canada.

Suggested Brainpowered tool: Mindguides invite personal stories to respectfully create curiosity for multiple sides of issues. Mentors, in contrast,  often tend to hear only what they already believe, until they apply altered dynamic neuro discoveries for mutual learning.

10. Mindguiding improves the brain’s hardwiring. Each time a person interacts with others and with new insights that interest, they strengthen their capabilities to interact with additional new ideas and with different approaches.

Suggested Brainpowered tool: Repeat or do one key nugget learned. Lack of doing or applying, creates passivity habits operated from the brain’s basal ganglia. Each time people act on what they learn, they rewire brain cell connectors and reshape mental ability.  Ready to reshape learning abilities stored in your brain?

You’ve likely noticed that – in each brainpowered tool above, diversity and rawboned talent become mental assets for more than what mentoring views as minions’ benefit. In mindguiding approaches – both sides learn in all sessions, and both sides also lead at times. Mindguiding –  will soon be a full Chapter in Wiley Press new International Textbook! As illustrated above, mindguiding offers human exchanges that generate wisdom across differences by respectful debates where all listen, all learn, all teach with humility that values ALL. Worth a try ?

How could typical mentoring practices in former teams – morph into mutually beneficial learning opportunities from mindguiding where you work?

YOUR TURN! Join our Brain Based Circles! Would love to meet you at any of the following!

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Created by Ellen Weber, Brain Based Tasks for Growth Mindset

Mita Window Words and Brainpowered Tool Distinctives for Mindguides
1. Question -possibilities as a way to aha solutions that add cognitive boosts to others.
2. Target – improvements  from others’ perspectives, rather than critique results
3. Expect – quality differences so people become capital & knowledge is shared
4. Move – multiple intelligences into action as tools for team problem solving
5. Reflect – with innovation celebration that engages the wider community
6. Risk – building goodwill across differences to cultivate caring & curious setting
7.Laugh – at self to increase serotonin & decrease cortisol that comes from stress
8.Stack – people’s decks in ways that add mutual profitability in all stages of work
9.Play – in ways that stretch multiple intelligences into innovative possibilities
10.Integrate – diverse backgrounds, soft and hard skills, ages, genders, specialties

16 thoughts on “From Mentor to Mindguide

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  9. eweber Post author

    Lisa, your kind words and generous encouragement started my busy week in wonderful directions!

    Thanks! I could look at your animation at all day! I a few spatial gestures – you describe the heart of innovation leadership. Wow – so glad our paths cross and look forward to more!

    Stay blessed!

  10. Dr. Lisa Van Allen

    Like Susan, I love the term “mind-guiding”. You have shared a number of excellent tools for teachers, trainers, facilitators, mentors and coaches. You focus on the collaborate aspect that I believe should be part of the process in any personal development relationship. You’ve covered a broad, multi-sensory, multi-modal approach that enhances learning in every individual. Thanks for the post!

  11. eweber Post author

    Wow Susan, thanks for stopping by! Thnaks also for your encouragement!

    It seems to me that when we use the word mentor — we link it to lots of outmoded ideas such as one person’s superiority over another.

    Mindguide appears to give us a new shot at how to work with one another in novel ways that respect differences, allow for growth at both ends, and savor the innovative opportunities.

    I am intrigued about what Polymash can do, and would love to hear more!

  12. Susan Mazza

    I love the term Mindguide Ellen. Not only do I think it applies to the shifting nature of the mentor but also of a “boss” and/or a coach. One of the roles I often play as a coach is one of a thinking partner, but I think the term Mindguide more aptly captures what that role is all about.

    This is also great food for thought as we at Polymash contintue to support content owners in transforming their content for the tablet – there is so much opportunity to leverage the technology to incorporate your suggestions here.

  13. eweber Post author

    Love the notion of submitting control, Phil! It’s an interesting era – and one where we can learn so much from one another. How refreshing – and thanks for that reminder!

  14. eweber Post author

    Thanks for stopping by friend! You build a great case here for mindguiding, Phil:-)

    Would you agree that delightful role you describe is also part of that nudge or dynamic advancement that comes from the mindguide, and than can be given back in a mutual teaching/learning exchange.

    I’ve come to see increasingly that I can learn from my 10 month old grandson – when I come to the table with curiosity and vulnerability. Lessons he can teach me – can change my life:-). Oh – did I say he was cute and fun too?:-)


  15. Phil Gerbyshak

    Lots of good stuff here.

    Love the ideas of seeking out folks different as a guide. Often they help by encouraging one to look at situations from an alternate point of view.

    Also love the idea of asking questions instead of just sharing information. More questions lead to more discoveries in my experience.

    I think there’s still a place for sage advice. Sometimes I just don’t know what to do, what to ask, or even where to begin. In these cases, I need something firmer than a guide. I need a push, not a nudge.

    The key is to know which you need (a guide or a push) and insist you get only that for that situation.

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