Being a Great First Time Mentor
There is so much information out there on how to be a great mentee and build a long lasting mentor relation. But how about when you want to be on the other side of the table?
Since 2019, I have been mentoring two individuals every six months and it has been a great rewarding experience. We are a better community when we lift each other up and support those around us to be successful too. As a thank you to all those who helped you along your journey, are you looking to pay forward what you have learnt? Here are a four tips to be an inspiring and great First Time Mentor:
- First, remember its a privilege to be able to mentor: Most mentees will approach you because they have been struggling on a topic for a while and have finally mustered up the courage to reach out to someone they feel they can resonate with or can help them. This is a great privilege to be able to help them out! Remember to leave your ego about your accomplishments at the door. Being a mentor is a sacred relation to inspire someone, give them the courage to pursue their dreams, and be part of their journey — you should walk into the meeting knowing your privilege.
| “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” — Winston Churchill
2. Understand their journey, not just their goals: A common mistake in the initial meetings can be to ask the mentee to be specific about their goals or problems that they are seeking your mentorship on. While that is an important piece, I recommend taking a step back and understanding their journey thus far, and their aspirations for the coming year (short term goals) and for the next 3–5 years (medium/long term goals). Once you have an understanding of the context and vision, then get specific about the goals that can help them get there. It is also an opportunity to re-evaluate if the goals make sense in the first place for the said journey the mentee aspires to take. Then you can brainstorm with them on the the specific actions they can take to achieve their goals.
| Why is this important? If you are a first time mentor, it can be easy to try to associate your success as a mentor on how quickly you solved specific problems for your mentee. However, the goal here is to ensure mentee’s success rather than your own. You want to understand where your mentee is coming from, what they aspire to be, and then dive deeper into specific goals.
3. Be approachable: I have unfortunately been in mentor relations where it becomes a question-answer session. Mentees ask a question and mentors share an answer that can roughly solve the problem. The issue with this approach is that its transactional and doesn’t leave room for the mentees to be reflective on their situation or learn on how they can approach the problem. It is very important as a mentor for you to be vulnerable, share your mistakes, share anecdotes from your journey and call out the thought process that you took to achieve a certain output when you were faced with a similar problem. Leave your mentees with stories that they can reflect on and map to their own journey, instead of providing them answers. Remember, a good coach mentors from the sidelines, they do not throw the ball for the player!
| “You cannot teach a man anything. You can only help him discover it within himself” — Galileo Galilei
4. Give thoughtful homework: Homework? Just kidding, but not really. Building up on the previous point, one powerful tip mentors can use is to end each session with a question for the mentee to ponder upon prior to the next session. You can share your own approach to these questions so they have potential frameworks to leverage but still leave room for them to come up with their own answers through introspection.
| “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” — Oprah Winfrey
Each of you has so much to share with the world because each of your voices and journeys are unique. I encourage you to offer 30 mins of your time each month or even quarter to mentor and help others in their journey! You have no idea how beneficial that can be to someone out there and how much they would appreciate it.