By User12601034-Oracle on Mar 02, 2015
As part of my day job, I've been doing some work on mentoring programs and best practices around mentoring. A disturbing theme that I'm seeing in my research is that mentoring is viewed as something for those people on their way out - that is, if you have a mentor, you're obviously not doing very well in your current position. I'd like to take that idea and throw it out the window!!
Think back to 7th Century BC...Thales, one of the 7 ancient sages, founded a school of philosophy to share knowledge. Every philosopher that came after Thales learned from the ones who came before. Fast forward 1500 years to the Middle Ages, and you have apprentices who are learning and perfecting skills taught by master craftsmen. Fast forward to today - we have apprentices who work under a master in a skilled trade; we have Masters students who study for a Doctorate under the supervision of an "expert;" we even have television programs where musicians are being mentored by current stars. In all sorts of fields throughout history, people learn from those with more knowledge. But we're suppose to look down on that in the business world? Inconceivable!! (to steal a line from The Princess Bride)
If you are a mentor, you have one of the most important jobs around. You need to have a wealth of self-awareness and understanding about what makes you successful, and then you have to be able to share that with your mentee in a way that they can internalize and apply to their own development. You have to dig in and push someone beyond their comfort zone because you are the person who is helping someone else define their future and take appropriate steps to reach those goals. That is no small task!
If you are being mentored, you know that learning from someone who has been in your position or is in a position you would like one day is the best way to explore that experience...without actually going through the experience. A person being mentored has basically stood up and said "I want to be the best that I can be" and has found people to help him or her achieve that best and is willing to take on the difficult work of self-reflection and achieving goals to become their best. This is not not the behavior of a person headed out the door - this is the awareness and actions of someone that you want on your teams!
You may not ever follow someone down moguls or terrain parks while skiing, but if you have the drive to help others as a mentor and/or the desire to achieve your best by being mentored, the resulting relationship will set both of you up for success no matter what path you choose.