This month we’ve been having some fun…
Longstanding readers may recall our previous Halloween-themed post (way back in 2017!) on slashers, asking: ‘what type of professional slasher are you?’ This year, however, we’ve gone too far – our social media followers on LinkedIn and Twitter will have seen us posting over recent weeks about terrifying creatures known as dementees and tormentors, both horrible in their own right.
You’ve probably come across (or even been!) a dementee at some point over your career so far, and not necessarily during late October. On the positive side, they’re super-eager for career support. But, beware: they indiscriminately reach out far and wide for anyone and everyone who can help them achieve what they want, and can be aggressive in the pursuit of their goals. The relationship is unbalanced though, and woe betide anyone who is unfortunate enough to be cornered by a dementee. We summarise these tricksters with this handy mnemonic:
Instead, to avoid becoming a DEMENTEE in your passionate pursuit of your career goals, we suggest, when interacting with more experienced professionals, looking for guidance, support and career direction from them, aspire to be a PROTEGE:
And just before you get the idea that experienced professional mentors escaped the bloodbath this Halloween, please note that we also drew attention to their dark side: tormentors. The ones whose advice is so cutting that it keeps you awake for months, shocking you to your core and perhaps triggering waves of depression. Other characteristics of tormentors listed by followers Greg and David are: talking and instructing without asking nor understanding the protege, or only having time available to meet on Friday 13th… and then rescheduling! It’s very definitely not recommended practice to interact with tormentors.
On a final gloomy note, perhaps JK Rowling was onto something when she invented dementors…
Are these dark, soulless creatures, ‘draining peace, hope and happiness out of the air around them’, born of the worst of dementees and tormentors?!
Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them... Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself... soulless and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.”
Time for another real-life example. Something that comes up often, which can be an internal barrier to people seeking career support. A conversation with a protege brought it top of mind…
Spoiler alert: at Protagion, our focus is on helping you achieve your career ambitions, whatever those might be i.e. from where you are now to where you want to be. We do encourage you to reflect on your route to today, yes, and this is useful information to prompt your thinking. But, please don’t feel that your past should dominate you or hold you back. Concentrate on your goal(s), and the steps/improvements you can take iteratively from here to get there. And, where the past has a particularly strong hold on you, some of our coaches have specific skills in helping you move forward to acceptance.
Back to the story… This specific conversation was with a mid-career professional who had previously shifted industries, and is looking to make another shift. Theoretically, this second shift should be mentally easier for them (having transformed themselves once before already, and expressing a preference for the ‘non-traditional approach’). However, they are conflicted with a complex set of emotions which are weighing on their mind: a lingering sense of ‘unfinished business’ when they think of their first industry and the qualifications important in it, regrets about not seeking help earlier, and stress about how these feelings are holding them back from their next shift.
Firstly, kudos to them for reaching out for support - you are very definitely not alone! The mixture of emotions has led to an ongoing cycle of anxiety, and feelings of personal disappointment and helplessness, prompting them to want to blot out these negative thoughts and further ignore the underlying challenges… Incredibly tough to deal with on your own. The great news is that they are now taking steps to get support from others who’ve walked this path before, who can act as sounding boards, and who can support them to get to where they want to be.
During our conversation, we touched on the work of Brene Brown, who they are also a big fan of. They referred regularly to having been in the ‘wilderness’, and they recognised that they have been stuck on their own, unsuccessfully trying to make progress. Towards the end of our initial conversation, they shared that they had been very apprehensive about having the chat, and I did my best to reassure them that all of us at Protagion are here to support them: career challenges are much easier to face with support from fellow professionals. A board of mentors and coaches can provide diverse angles of support needed. They used a reasonably graphic (but memorable) analogy about their distress being a boil that just keeps getting bigger because of reluctance to acknowledge it, but it takes personal courage, and perhaps medical support, to prick it so that it can heal. Here’s to helping you heal!
There are many professionals who deep down know they have an unresolved challenge or issue which is holding them back from achieving their personal goals. And, the older we get, the more ‘unfinished business’ and/or regrets we might accumulate. Exam misses, burnt bridges, seemingly irreparable corporate relationships, feelings of failure, and more. You may even have tried for years to address things on your own. If you are one of these professionals, please reach out to others for support: existing coaches you work with, your support network, or us - we’d be delighted to explore with you how our professional mentors and coaches could support you!