Mentoring is one of life’s blessings. For years I’ve been the grateful recipient of many wise insights about professional and personal life, bestowed by scores of mentors (including students). I’m honored to follow in this tradition, passing (hopefully) good words along, by this time to perhaps hundreds of trainees and colleagues. Worthy “memes” have sticking power and continue disseminating through future generations.
The most successful mentees not only connect with their mentor, but they effectively engage an entire array of mentors who as a group possess the expertise and professional connections the mentees will require to grow their capacities and careers. Successful mentees have a sense of what they want from each of these relationships, structure their encounters accordingly, and come to their mentors well prepared.
My contributions involve really getting to understand each mentee’s goals, perspectives, abilities, and limitations and how their careers align with the rest of their lives. We can then figure out just what they’ll have to do for them to achieve their (hopefully) realistic aspirations—and we track progress, preferably using reasonably concrete as well as qualitatively measurable outcomes. I have no way of determining which of my mentoring relationships have been most successful; you’ll have to ask the customers.
Mentoring relationships are inevitably reciprocally rewarding. Each one enriches us, enhances our career satisfaction, and deepens participation in our professional communities. It doesn’t get much better than that. ■