Mentor or Mentee-Learn to be good at both
“A great mentor has the heart and soul of a mentee, they lead with humility, integrity, authenticity, inspiration, and they never leave you behind” Dr. Chris-Michelle Jones
Being a great mentor in this world is a big role. Whether you set out in life to mentor others or you simply become one by proxy, it’s as important as any personal goal or aspiration, because mentoring involves pouring into the success of others.
When selecting a mentor, be sure that you know what you want and ensure that your voice is included in the direction of your future. Your values, goals, and opinions should be a baseline in the stage of strategies formulation toward your achievements.
The role of mentee is not passive. To properly participate, you must actively listen and hear from those who have chosen to invest in you. At the same time, you should not be an empty cup waiting to receive contents that will replace what was once there.
Example: I often cringe when some of my friends tell me that they did something because I told them or that I said they should do. When I share my opinions or ideas, it is never my intention to tell anyone to do anything. If they seem “stuck”, I tend to begin brainstorming with them to help kick start their ideas. I prefer to suggest and offer insights, not dictate. It makes me think that if I suggest something, dangerous or ridiculous (during a silly moment) that they will negligently do it.
Resist the urge to “go along” with what someone tells you. This relationship is not one sided and requires mutual contributions from the mentor and mentee. Both parties should be learning from the other. You must match each other’s energy and therefore you should be “present and accounted for” (as we use to say in the military) if this partnership is going to be mutually rewarding.
Which leads to this point: if you are paying a mentor, (aka, development coach), their true objective could become clouded by the dividends involved. So be “present” in your for-hire relationships so that you can hold everyone accountable. Use discernment and balance to uncover “hidden agendas.”
Proceed with caution. Pseudo-Mentors are in no way interested in aligning mentees core values with their true goals but are more interested in creating drones of themselves. Many are only looking for followers whose values and actions can be easily sculpted and personalities effortlessly manipulated. Battle the impulse to feed narcissistic egos and satisfying others’ unsavory internal-gratifications.
Consider these 10 suggestions when you are ready for a mentor-mentee experience:
- Sometimes more than one mentor is necessary. Not one person knows everything, so be sure to not ask someone for guidance whom you do not know has the expertise. I find that some people will ask their teachers, pastors, parents, peers, or others about areas that they have no expertise. Many times, others will not admit that they do not know and will respond with answers riddled with opinions, personal emotions, or hearsay, void of facts or balance.
“Never ask advice of someone with whom you wouldn’t want to trade places”
~Darren Hardy, The Compound Effect~
- Do not assume that wisdom is packaged with age, there are very knowledgeable younger “folks” to learn from. Personally, I keep Gen Y and Z’ers in my circle of influence. Example: I recently learned how to do so something on my iPhone from a 1 ½-year-old. Kind of embarrassing, but hey now I know how to do it!
- Determine what’s important to you and seek those with accessible details on documented successes. Meaning, no self-proclaimed expertise unless there is observable proof. Saves time, money and disappointment.
- Be respectful of others time. Schedule appointments, show up and work the plan. Otherwise, you will get a zero sum return on your efforts.
- Have clarity on what your success indicators. How will you measure growth?
- Confer regularly with your mentor to increase accountability and to keep each other on track.
- Listen to each other.
- Mentors are also leaders and should be great motivators. (Run Forest Run, if your relationship is absent of this). They should never make you feel inferior, but they should be honest, uplift and encourage you using Emotional Intelligence and great feedback techniques.
- Not all mentors know that they are mentors, therefore you can learn simply by observing character-traits and behaviors for integrity indicators. If you cannot find a mentor you trust or can afford, books, videos, podcasts, and other media can have the same effect on you.
- Not every mentor or mentee is created equal. Never be afraid to “hit the kill switch” on a relationship gone south!
It’s a relationship, not dictatorship and thus, “it takes two to make it out of sight”.