How to Be a Mentor

I’ve received some absolutely great mentoring over the years. Here are a few of the things that I’ve noticed my favorite mentors do. (I reserve the right to update this as I notice more about what seems to work – or as you teach me what has worked with you.)

  1. Listen. Great mentors know how to focus on the mentee. Great mentors are fully present. Great mentors are fully focused. (This takes maturity.)
  2. Determine what the mentee is interested in, or struggling with. What’s really going on?
  3. Point to potential resources (books, people, methods, etc.). As is relevant, great mentors will point towards their mentors and what advice they may have given.
  4. Listen some more.
  5. Ask good questions. Sometimes for reflection, sometimes to challenge. Mentors know the questions that change perspective and lead to “ah ha” moments – if not immediately, then later as the question lingers.
  6. Be there. Great mentors are available – even when it’s inconvenient to them.

Pretty simple list, right? Not as simple to execute. But if you try, you might just change a life.

As a side note: Rarely is a great mentor simply telling me how to do it right. They are making me think and do the work towards finding my solution or growing in some capacity.

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