Great mentees make great mentors

We all agree that mentoring is remarkably important and that being a mentee represents a powerful opportunity to grow.  For a lot of us, whether we are college students, company employees, lawyers or people from any discipline who desire to succeed in their ventures, we would not be where we are today if somebody else had not helped us.  A mentor could be a college professor, a more experienced coworker or someone with firsthand experience about business negotiation, teamwork, business foundation, law or any other field, that is willing to invest time and experience that can turned us around and put us in the path of success.  However, the responsibility in mentoring is not entirely delegated to the mentor only.  This is not a passive relationship where mentors are the givers and mentees are comfortable receptacles of invaluable knowledge. The truth is that in order to get a great mentor you need to be a great mentee.

Mustang Mentoring_suzzanne uhland_how to be a good mentor
Image courtesy of Brian Ujiie at Flickr.com

Here are some pointers that should be kept in mind when thinking about the role of a great mentee.

  • Being a mentee is a job as well.  Do not expect your mentor to do all the work for you.  He is a helper and a facilitator, but he will never accomplish what is yours to do. Show proactivity and intention to accomplish your agreed upon objectives.
  • Be committed. Come prepared to the meetings. Meet regularly and avoid cancelling.  When you are together, listen to your mentor. Have specific questions.  Know what you want to learn and take notes. That disposition shows that you are not wasting time. If a mentor is going to willingly give a couple of hours of his likely busy day, spending quality time with mentees, giving good advice, the least you can do is show your commitment.  Mentees who receive good insight and do not implement it are very likely to lose their mentor.
  • It is a two way relationship. Add value to your mentor as well.  Ask about things your mentor is interested in and send him articles, blogs entries, links about those things.  This will enrich your meetings, provide more topics for discussion and encourage your mentor in his personal growth as well.  If you know somebody that can be helpful for your mentor’s concerns, connect him with that person.  Express how your mentor has been helpful to you and give thanks.  You will find that your mentor will be more encouraged to give without being asked.
  • The call off.  There might be a point when mentoring can be modified or come to an end.  What this means is that is better to be honest about the moment you sense you have learned what you required to learn and ask your mentor if you can be introduced to someone else that can teach you about their expertise.  It is better to discuss these issues and deal with them and thus, give this valuable relationship the opportunity to be reconsidered in positive way.  
  • Pay it forward.  The way you have received guidance and experienced the benefits of being mentored, you should be able to give it back to other people.  Become a mentor to somebody else, whether it is a peer or a subordinate, a close friend, relative or a new acquaintance.  Help the way you have been helped.
Mustang Mentoring_how to be a good mentor_suzzanne uhland
Image courtesy of Brian Ujiie at Flickr.com

Great mentors are recognizable as well.

  • A mentor would want to be prepared and give the best advice possible for great mentees.  When a person shows interest in being mentored, a great mentor would ask what they are interested in learning, what is important to them and be prepared to help.  
  • Great mentors will assign something to see if the person shows the dedication to do it.  If a mentee is not interested enough in the topic or does not want to be mentored that baldly, and obstacle or challenge will clearly show that.  People who are really interested accept challenges and do them willingly and that lets the mentor how much they care.
  • Great mentors ask their mentees about the things they want to learn that they have not been able to teach, and if they do not know about the topic they will introduce their mentees to a friend that has expertise in that area and can guide them in new mentoring.

It is true that a major factor in any successful person’s life is that they had people who mentored them and helped them.  Mentoring is helping someone not make the same mistakes you made or speeding up their learning by giving them the essentials, the key things, the key ideas, suggestions and feedback.  All of these things are invaluable.  Mentoring is critical and has a huge impact on life. If you were mentored you owe to this wonderful people that once helped you to pay it forward and help others be successful as well.  

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