What the Best Mentors Teach Us

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BestMentorsLast month’s post was an Ode to Mentors. None of us could be where we are without them. It celebrates who mentors are as people and why they are so inspiring and necessary for those around them.

This month, we will build on the topic, and discuss What the Best Mentors Teach Us. Again, these are my thoughts from decades as a mentor, mentee, and bystander. I’ve learned from the best, and even when they weren’t any good, I learned even more about what works for me and why.

I’ve organized my thoughts in three areas:

  • Personal qualities: versatility, resiliency, emotional intelligence, resourcefulness, ‘hungry’
  • Communication qualities: clarity and directness, empowerment, mediation/moderation
  • Network/Connection qualities: empowerment, grow and establish network/community

Your thoughts will vary, but I hope that this summary is thought-provoking.

Personal Qualities

1. Versatility – 

  • The best mentors teach us to be versatile, to adapt to different people, cultures, technologies, industries. 
    • The more you adopt an open and embracive mind set, the better you’ll understand others around you, the more likely you are to succeed on a grander scale.

2. Resiliency – 

  • The best mentors teach us that nothing worth having is easy, and also that the best lessons are often the hardest lessons. They help us pull ourselves up by our bootstraps especially when all seems lost. 
    • With a combination of humor, wisdom, strength, advice and connections, they help us pick ourselves up, shake ourselves off and ask ourselves, ‘What’s next?”

3. Emotional Intelligence – 

  • The best mentors help you understand what you’re feeling, what others are feeling, the reasons for these reactions, the motivations of yourself and others etc.,
    • Understanding your own emotions, and that of others will help you be more compassionate while also being more likely to produce better plans and better results.

4. Resourcefulness – 

  • The best mentors help you be more creative, more flexible and more adaptable around problem-solving. 
    • Seeing the problem from a larger and different point of view helps mentees better address opportunities and challenges.

5. Hungry (Lifelong Learners) –

  •  The best mentors know that life is a journey, not a destination. They teach us to ever reach higher and wider, never settling, never accepting complacency.
    • Going out of the comfort zone and embracing new learnings make life a more interesting, satisfying and entertaining journey.

Communication Abilities

6. Clarity and Directness (of Communication) – 

  • The best mentors help their mentees better understand their own communication styles, and that of others. They challenge us to be more clear, more precise, more inspiring, more diplomatic, more gracious, and more transparent in our communications.
    • There are so many ways to get communications wrong. Mentors help us head off communication traps while helping us better understand how we are coming across to others, and improving the results of our communication overall.

7. Empowerment 

  • The best mentors empower their mentees to solve their own problems, to reach for more than they think they can reach. This is not just a confidence builder, it also opens up a broader, larger view of possibilities for their mentees.
    • As mentors empower their mentees, they, in turn, often consciously or unconsciously empower others around them.  

8. Mediation and Moderation – 

  • The best mentors help us better understand conflict and the motivations of all parties. 
    • They may teach us how to better mediate between parties, how to moderate responses between extreme points of view, and even how to improve the chances of collaboration and consensus.

Network and Community

 9. Network – 

  • The best mentors know how to grow their network, and support mentees in growing theirs. 
    • Having a broad and deep network is key to all the other qualities taught by great mentors.

10. Community –

  • The best mentors help their mentees connect with the people closest to them, and also to the community around them. 
    • The challenge and joy of building close relationships and community helps us all feel fulfilled, challenged, accepted, and understood.

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