The A-Z Guide for Being a Great Mentee & Making the Most Out of Mentorship.
It’s easy to look at the perks of mentorship and want to be mentored in one area of your life or another. I mean, who doesn’t like good things?
For example, it can help shorten your learning curve and prevent you from making costly mistakes. It can also elevate your network, increase your productivity, open you up to more opportunities, and advance your career.
However, a good mentor and a good mentee go hand in hand to make mentorship fulfilling and effective. No matter how knowledgeable, successful and good your mentor is, you won’t make the most out of the mentorship if you’re a terrible mentee. It’s one thing for them to be rich in value, and it’s another thing for you to be the ideal recipient of the value. The gap between these two has to be bridged.
So How Can You Play Your Role as a Mentee to Make Mentorship Worthwhile?
⟩⟩ First and foremost, respect your mentor’s time.
Time is the most expensive currency on the planet. That they’re taking time out of their most likely busy schedule to guide you is not something you should make the mistake of taking for granted. Really, it’s just plain rude and discouraging.
Wondering how you can respect their time?
★ Show up early for meetings,
★ Inform them ahead if you’ll be unavailable, and
★ Don’t make meetings unnecessarily longer than they need to be.
⟩⟩ Be teachable.
Being teachable is more about your attitude than your intelligence or mental capacity. It has to do with your willingness to learn, and where necessary, unlearn and relearn.
Be humble enough to acknowledge that you don’t know everything, and that learning from someone will help you go a long way faster than you would on your own.
Being teachable doesn’t make you less secure or confident in yourself. It’s a show of strength, actually, and hunger for growth. The more teachable you are, the more people want to pour into you.
⟩⟩ Clearly define the terms of the relationship.
Nobody can be your all in all. No one has the ability to mentor you in every single area of your life. If you expect this from your mentor, it’ll simply be too much pressure on them. Plus you’d be setting yourself up for disappointment.
So what exactly is this person mentoring you on? How long is it supposed to last? What’s expected of them and what’s expected of you? How much access do you have to them? How often will you meet? Where will you meet? When and how is it okay to contact them?
It’s important for you to spell this out as clearly as possible from the beginning. It’ll make the whole experience easy and effective for you both.
⟩⟩ Also, bring something to the table.
It shouldn’t be only one party providing value for the other. You’re a mentee, sir/ma, not a leech. What do you have to offer in return? What are you bringing to the table? What value can you provide your mentor?
This is something you should even figure out before approaching them to mentor you. Let them know what you can bring to the table, and then go ahead to over deliver during the course of the mentorship.
When you bring something substantial to the table, you get a seat there. Value begets value.
⟩⟩ Then of course, you’ll need to put in the work.
Someone said a mentor is not just someone that advices you, a mentor is someone whose advice you take. I felt that. It’s one thing to be given direction or guidance, and it’s another thing to take it.
Say, for instance, you have specific fitness goals, and you join a gym to achieve them. It won’t be enough for you to just show up at the gym; you won’t make any progress if you do just that. You’ll need to work out. More importantly, you’ll need to listen to your fitness coach amd do the exact exercises they prescribe for you.
The goal of having a mentor is to shorten your learning curve, right? That can’t happen if you refuse to play your part. Roll up your sleeves and get to work. Don’t expect to be spoon fed or baby sat.
⟩⟩ Provide feedback and progress report.
Fuel is to your car as feedback is to mentorship.
Read that again.
Read a book that was recommended for you? Great. How was it? What did you learn from it?
Followed steps that were laid out for you? Superb. Where did it lead you? Did it birth the results you were expecting? Did you encounter any challenge with it?
What’s working and what’s not?
Providing feedback is a form of appreciation and encouragement. It lets your mentor know that you’re actually putting their advice to practical use. It also helps draw attention to challenges you’re having personally or with the mentorship itself. This makes room for improvement and growth.
On that note, be intentional about making feedback normal, not just a stiff and official performance review.
⟩⟩ Understand boundaries and respect them.
Just like in other relationships, there are lines in mentorship that shouldn’t be blurred or crossed. This is part of the reasons your relationship should be clearly defined.
Out of respect for yourself and your mentor, understand the areas that should be no-go and avoid them. Doing otherwise would most likely lead to awkwardness or something worse.
To do this, know what your mentor is NOT. For instance, they’re not your sponsor, shrink or romantic prospect. You know they’re not these to you, so don’t relate with them like you would if they were.
Work on being a great mentee, and other things will fall into place. You won’t expect to reap where you didn’t sow, would you?
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