I considered this morning that if I make it to 90+ years old that I will always want a coach. The time that people have invested in me is the biggest gift I could have ever received. I think we often take mentorship lightly. There is always learning in both directions but the mentor making a choice to make the investment in the mentee creates a condition where the mentee really must take action.
When I was a child, if someone wanted to teach me something that I wasn’t interested in, my mind would wander about. I could hear the persons words but I didn’t process what they were saying and I didn’t retain the information. It was like when you read a book and after a few pages, you forgot what you just read. When I became interested I would remember things that I didn’t recall learning. It was like some part of me heard something that I didn’t consciously pick up. Over the years, I came to realize that when I had a mentor that I would naturally be more interested. I felt that when a person invested in me that I had a duty to invest in myself and give something back to both that person and others. It was the precursor to something going viral. It was viral Howie.
I had and have people throughout the years make a choice to teach me and I also made a choice to learn from them. The point is that some mentees may choose not to receive the gift. Regardless, I think that mentorship and coaching is a gift and I am grateful to those who have given and choose to give of themselves.
When I am in mentor mode, I ask if people are willing to do the work required. If they are I am all in, if not, I still give them the option to do the work or take what they feel they can use. I do believe that a mentee has a responsibility to themselves and the mentor. While you can search and find the top 20 things about being an effective mentee, I’ll share five.
- Ask Questions
- Be Honest
Today the commoditization of knowledge is very popular. People take pride in how much is “known” as data or facts. The problem is that our world is changing faster than we even know. We can’t simply “know things” we must constantly “learn things” but many confuse knowing and learning. In addition to this, people have heightened sensitivity about everything which means emotional intelligence or relational intelligence is critical. Mentors need to set conditions and create safety for mentees to feel free to explore but mentees have to release preconceived notions and perception including facts they find on search engines in order to truly learn.
If the conditions are right and the mentor and mentee establishes rules, boundaries and guardrails, the mentor can be a life sandbox where the mentee can explore and learn. The other thing is that a mentee may take away only one or two things from a mentor but those one or two things could change their lives forever. I recently worked with a Doctor teaching me medical yoga. She said “Yoga is about the breath and I will show you how to breathe.” To which I said “Doc, I’ve been breathing my whole life, I figure I got this.” Well, I was wrong. In the beginning of our session, she asked me to trust the process and listen to her carefully. Once I settled in a listened, I asked her questions, applied her direction, provided feedback to her and continued to adjust based on her teachings. What I came to realize is that while I was breathing, I was tightening up many muscles and this was inhibiting me from breathing fully. Strange to think for all my years, I have an opportunity now to enhance my life with simple breathing techniques. The mentor can give but the mentee must be prepared to receive. I was comfortable enough to be open with her about it and flexible enough to realize that she knows more than I do about this and for me to learn, I must listen. In a matter of weeks, simple breathing exercises changed my life. It is a gift and it is simple.
To be a mentee, you must be prepared to be uncomfortable and to make the investment in yourself. If someone outside of you believes you are worth their time, you should also realize that you are worth your own time.
I hope that I have mentors for the rest of my life, so many people to thank and so much to learn. It has also been an honor and a gift to be a mentor. I hope that I have an opportunity to continue doing that as well.
What about you?
What do you think?
If you need a link to something about this topic beyond what I’ve shared .. check this out