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Mentoring - Leaving your ego behind

I finally got the news I’d be waiting for. It was late evening, as the nighttime drew in recently, my mentee let me know they had achieved the corporate goal they had been working towards for some time. I knew their achievement meant a huge amount to them. I punched the air silently with excitement. But it was more. I felt a burn of satisfaction deep down inside, right to my soul.

Mentoring has always been a 2-way street for me. In my corporate career I probably mentored more than 100 colleagues. I believe that I offered most of these professionals some value. At the same time, I learnt from them. I worked in the IT industry; an industry that is broad, and where a single technology topic can be very, very deep & technical. Every mentoring relationship I had broadened and deepened my technical IT skills. But, at the same time, these relationships enriched me, and expanded my network across the globe, sometimes into deep friendships that will last a lifetime.

In my latter years in the corporate world, I felt like I was sharing many years-worth of wisdom with junior colleagues. And at other times, I felt that I was simply one page further on in the manual than peer mentees. But both experiences added value. Both were examples of what, for me a mentor is – someone who shares their experience of the path that they have walked before.

And my mentors had certainly walked the walk before me - where I aspired to walk behind them.

My best mentors listened to me. The best ones showed me the way. The best ones offered advice, but only when it was needed. The best ones told me the truth when sometimes it was hard to hear. The best ones nudged me when I needed a gentle push. The best ones provided a confidential sounding board, and who would allow me to “vent” when things hadn’t gone my way. The best ones stood in the background silently cheering me on. And, the best ones rejoiced in my success.

But what stands out for me as a mentee myself is that the very, very best mentors parked the bus called "ego" down the street some way away, and we walked & talked as equals.

So, remember that burn … that burn of excitement when you hear that your mentee has achieved success? Have you experienced that too?

Photo by Teddy Österblom on Unsplash

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