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Miley Cyrus and Me? Yes, Miley Cyrus and Me! ... or How The Voice Demonstrates #Mentoring

It’s always a surprise to people when they find out how much I love TV – and The Voice is in my top 10!

Let’s rewind to mid-2016 – when I noticed ads for The Voice as I was fast-forwarding through commercials. Imagine my surprise when the ads showed Miley Cyrus joining the team as a coach.

I thought: Really? As a Guest Coach – ? She has been so outrageous for the past couple years – and not exactly a good role model.

It didn’t seem a “good” choice to me.

But I love watching The Voice so that overrode my initial reactions.

In one of the first shows of Season 11, Miley had an intense look, as you can see in the photo. It struck me that this must be how I look when I’m on a telcon mentoring session (because suddenly I’ll realize I’ve been so focused on listening and the interaction that I haven’t taken a note or looked at the clock).

And then in the Knockouts (after Belle sang), she said, “I think I'll learn a lot and grow a lot in this experience too.”

My AHA moment (besides realizing my original value judgment on Miley was wrong - WRONG)!

I suddenly realized that the coaches were also mentors. They didn’t just coach for winning the competition with the BEST voice. They all worked hard with each and every contestant, giving the singers everything they could before the person’s time was up, as the field narrowed.

So here’s how The Voice demonstrates mentoring (from Seasons 11 and 12).

Mentors get as much out of mentoring as the Mentee does.

Mentors mentor because they like to help out and pass on their experience.

Everyone – including the other coaches – was stunned that Alicia did an impromptu song to try to convince a multiple-chair-turner candidate to pick Alicia as her coach.

And mentors always benefit. As Adam Levine said (March 15, 2017),

“It's pushed me to do better in my own life and career and to know that we could really alter someone's course just by pushing [our buttons].”

Mentors also realize what training the next generation means. Mentees can take heart from the fact that most of us mentors are in awe every time we meet a new mentee. The mentees seem to bring more experience and passion – and many knew much earlier in life what they wanted to do.

It really resonated with me when Faith Hill told Alicia Keys during the Knockouts (October 25, 2016),

“I could never have passed the audition now.”

That’s how I feel when I talk with new mentees who have done so much, it seems, at much earlier ages. My friends and I even talked about this last night at our monthly Girls’ Night Out – how much smarter the newer public health graduates are and how much more is required of them as graduate students than when we were in school.

Mentors help by drawing out Mentees.

Mentors don’t tell mentees what to do. We use guided discussions and questioning to help them problem-solve, learn to tell their story, refine their job focus, and to take control of their own professional careers, for example. And here’s some of what The Voice coaches do.

This is what Mentors do.

We go to great lengths to help out mentees. Spending just 30 minutes with a mentee can help them get moved along their career pathway, as Blake Shelton describes in the photo.

In November 2016, Alicia said that the coaches help the singers find themselves.

And then Adam told us and demonstrated this when he said,

“You both tell AND show what you do,”

as he got up on the stage and sang together with one of the contestants. (November 1, 2016)

It’s about Mentoring - not about Me.

It can be awkward when I start a new mentoring relationship. Sometimes, in the initial meeting, the mentee will either gush about my long career or will be very inquisitive about everything I have done. And I have to politely cut them off and move them to a discussion about THEM.

And that’s what Blake said in early March 2016,

“It’s not about what I do as an artist. It's about what I do as a coach.”

And that’s what I often explain to mentees, “It’s not my career and reputation. It’s my ability to mentor you to help you achieve your goal.”

Mentors find it hard to let go of “their” Mentees.

Whether I have just one interaction with a mentee or multiple sessions, it’s hard to say goodbye. We want the best for “our” mentees – and we wonder if there’s just one more thing we can help them with  even though we know it’s time for them to move on.

Miley, for example, walked Gabe Broussard out to tell him she loved his voice. And she talked to other contestants about keeping them together even after The Voice (October 2016).

And Adam jumped up and went on stage to say goodbye (at the end of March 2017).

We're on the Mentee's side.

We feel so great when mentees have their own AHA moments and realize the progress they are making. And The Voice coaches show that as well. Here are Gwen Stefani and Adam rejoicing in team members' great performances (March 2017).

And while I don’t have pictures of what I look like at these times, I am co-opting photos of Miley’s hands because this is what I look like whether you can see me or not – The hands, talking with the hands!



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