Why would I ever want a mentor? Mentoring 101

May 3, 2018 · Mentoring Mentor

How often did you experience the first result on Google to be a perfect match? How often did you read the book you needed by accident? How often have you heard yourself say "if only I had known this technique earlier"? How often did you fail at understanding a generic explanation, but grasped the one customized for you?

Do we need other moving bodies?

There is too much content around us. We need curation. We use ratings and reviews to guide ourselves. We inform ourselves before we buy. In other words, we rely on information from other people to grow. There is no way around it.

During our studies, we practiced study groups. We helped each other understand and learn new concepts. Again, we relied on others to move forward.

But once we reach the professional world, we kind of lose this behavior. We become "professionals": "They hired me to do a job, I must pretend to be able to do". If you don’t watch out, the "fake it until you make it" philosophy takes over.

Is that bad? We are very successful this way. Developers are problem solvers. Give us a problem and we will find a solution. It isn't bad per se. But it limits our potential.

We could be even more successful if we chose to work together. What if we stopped fighting alone hours long and get some help after only 5 minutes instead?

Why do we all want to make the same mistakes again and again and not chose to learn from one another? Why does asking for help feels like pulling your pants down and saying "I'm useless, please kick my ass"?

Collaboration is everywhere lately, at least in my agile world. But even among those who do want to collaborate, their is a clear focus on the role, not the person. Team-members help team-members, not the "person" in front of them. Even in teams that function well, the "we" of the team is paramount.

„You“, the highest level of collaboration

There is even a higher collaboration level.

It appears when "we" becomes "you". It appears when someone decides to gives out their time and energy. It appears when we help without expecting anything in return. It appears when your success as a person becomes important to me as another human being. This is the time when new horizons open. When options get suggested. Where experience stories flow. This is where mentoring takes place.

When „you“ are the receiving end of the mentoring, the discussion is yours. It is your journey and you now have either a guide or a companion. Done well, it is one of the best rollercoaster there can be.

Mentoring in praxis

What do a mentor and a mentee do together? Whatever they want, as long as the mentee is the focus. It can be working or philosophying together. It can be reading books and discussing about it. It can be solving problems on a day to day basis. It can be helping ease a difficult conversation. Heck it can even be being there when there is something to celebrate or to mourn.

Mentoring has as many faces as there are mentor-mentee pairs. And that's how it should be. Mentoring is all about „you“. And last time I checked, you were unique.

Conclusion

This was the "why" behind mentoring. We can fake living and working in this world without relying on human relations. But we won't be as effective as we could be.

Mentoring is the art of helping one person grow. This is the much needed booster for your career and your life alike.

Luckily for all, it‘s easier to be both a mentor and a mentee than one would think. This is the first post of a series of articles about mentoring in which I explain you how to get started with it.

Here‘s part 2 about demystifying the mentor.

Do you have questions? Write your feedback in the comments below so that I can taylor the upcoming posts to your needs!

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