For the past few months I was placed in a so called reverse mentorship. This was a person who was older & had more work experience than me and I was to be their mentor. And did I learn a lot! And so did she!
I believe many see mentorships as a romanticised student — master relationship where the student does everything for that master, it’s an odd transaction of time & effort for knowledge. I don’t believe this has to be the case. One of the best things about being a mentor is that you get asked questions that either challenge your knowledge or opens you up to new perspectives. It’s the exact same thing as being the one mentored. In my opinion, there is no better feeling than feeling utterly stupid cause that just shows that there is more to learn, more to explore and more to create.
You might have heard the quote:
When the student becomes the master and the master becomes the student.
I think this is one to keep in mind when going into mentorships.
Mentorships are not about a transaction of knowledge or favours; it’s about transformation between the two. Sometimes I will grow from learning, watching, asking my mentors about their experience. At times the tables will be turned.
Unfortunately a lot in the west we have been schooled in individual pride of achievements and not seeking the growth of our skills or knowledge.
Here are my main arguments to get a mentor/mentee instead of trying to develop all by yourself:
- You will get new perspectives on your own field.
- You get to pick a brain which has deep knowledge in the subject you’re interested in.
- You will be challenged by that someone.
- Your sphere of influence will be expanded ex. new book recommendations, conferences, people to reach out to.
- Your network will grow & you will be introduced to people you never knew existed.
- There will be new opportunities ex. for growth, work, time, projects.
- You will most likely have somebody who is just as excited about the work as you are.
I want to point out the last one. That feeling and drive means so much when we work together. It’s that shared passion that can really drive through some amazing projects. I would have never jumped up and down of excitement with somebody on biomimicry if I hadn’t approached my mentor with it.
So, not sure where to look for a mentor?
First off I would like you to think of somebody you look up to in your field. Great, now start looking at people around the same level as that person. Now start looking for people who are just a bit behind you in whatever field you love to pursue.
These are all people who can be your mentor or that you can be a mentor to.
I know it can be scary to approach somebody about becoming their mentee. Though most say yes to a person showing that kind of excitement towards their subject. And if you get a no, it’s not the end of the world. There are a lot of people out there willing to learn. Remember set some guidelines, approach it with a learning & growing mind and I’ll guarantee you that you both will get a lot out of it.
Now go get ’em, connect & grow together!