This is a good reminder from Seth Godin about what real mentorship is all about. Many organizations try to cram a formal mentoring program on their teams but by definition mentorship is much more, dare I say, an ‘organic’ process. You cannot force others, or yourself for that matter, into being a good mentor. It’s a choice you make when the time and place is right. Part of it comes from a true desire to pass on what you have learned, perhaps from someone who has mentored you. There is a sense of responsibility and tradition to it and typically there’s a gravity of sorts that pulls kindred personalities together. Occasionally the “square peg” and the “round hole” will come together because of circumstance or some catalyst but that is the exception not the rule. There is no system in the universe that force repelling poles to unite. Organizations can have structure and guidelines to a mentor program, encourage it’s growth but trying to force participation is a recipe for failure.
On the flip side, if you want mentorship, you must agree with yourself to be a willing student. If you are a “know-it-all” it’s unlikely that anyone of substance will want to mentor you. It requires you to be open to criticism, willing to listen and step out of your comfort zone to take action. This kind of relationship, like all others, is a two-way street.
If you keep your eyes, ears and mind open, you will always find people that you can learn from…Remember to share what you have learned. Teaching something to others is the best way to master it.
“It’s what you learn, after you know it all, that really counts.”