Justice Thurgood Marshal once said, “None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody – a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony, or a few nuns – bent down and helped us pick up our boots.”
Sir Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen further it is because I stood on the shoulder of giants.”
Mentoring has been and always will be a crucial piece to the success of future generations. Resources are more available now than they ever have been in the past, but there is no better resource than a good mentor who takes a genuine interest in the growth of their mentee. At its best, mentoring can be a life-changing relationship that is centered on the growth and development of a young professional. In order to maximize the relationship, the mentor should do the following:
- Show a consistent, genuine interest in the growth of the mentee
This may sound obvious, but far too often mentors make their mentee a low priority. When stuff comes up in work or life, the mentoring gets put on the back burner. Great mentoring is a consistent, compassionate effort.
- Force independent thinking
“If you catch a man a fish, he eats for a day. If you teach a man how to fish, he eats for a lifetime”. Mentoring is not about just helping a young professional find their next job. It is also not about creating a clone of yourself. Great mentoring is about teaching, and then forcing the mentee to think independently in order to develop their own philosophy. The person standing on the shoulders of a giant is never the same as the giant.
- Mentoring is a 2-Way Street
It has been shown in social science studies that the most successful mentoring relationships include a large amount of reciprocity. As coaches, we always say that we should never stop learning. That learning can come from other professionals that are both more and less experienced than us. We need to operate with an open mind and not an ego. Great mentors always value the opinions and knowledge of their mentee and create a 2-way relationship.
Great mentoring can ensure a promising future for a young professional. In order to make sure the mentoring relationship thrives, a mentor should make sure to show a genuine interest in the growth of the mentee, force independent thinking, and create reciprocity in the relationship.