Are you meant to be a good Mentee?

I am convinced that I have been blessed to have wonderful mentors throughout my career span of 16 years, who have been instrumental in enabling me in multiple ways.

I am equally convinced about the fact that there are some things that I may have done right to be able to “get” my mentors.

I am often told that I am lucky that I have some very good mentors. And I completely agree.

What I add is that is equally important to understand that it’s a 2-way street. And there are few traits to being a good mentee – which help us get the right mentors and leverage that opportunity the most.

So here are my some thoughts based on my personal experiences of being a mentee – The 8 Keys to being a good mentee:

1. Desire to Learn
This is clearly the first indicator. Are you open to looking for external help? Are you OK Knowing that you are not your best version yet and that someone could enable/ help you?

2. Remove the Blinds
Keep your eyes open. You never know who could be a mentor. No one will announce that he/she will be your mentor – and if someone does – its more their need than yours. I know many people who tell me that they haven’t ever “had” a good mentor; and I ask them “what have you done to “get” a good mentor?”

In a nutshell – the first tip is to hold yourself responsible for finding/identifying a mentor for your self.

3. Ask for Help – Directly!
This poses for some of us, challenges similar to asking someone out on a date or asking a partner to dance with you. You have to make that move – yourself – as directly as possible.
But even before that, you have to be “worthy” of being that person’s mentee. How? I believe its about being direct, open about your need and intent, being ok with being vulnerable, being ok with letting someone know that you are not yet your best version.

4. Submit to the Process
Many of us confuse between submitting to the process and submitting to the person, as have I. You are likely to submit to the person, become overly dependent – but to me, that’s a part of the process. Just keep reminding yourself that you need to submit to the process and in that you will be preparing yourself for what will happen onwards in your journey. Submitting to the process is about become the clay that can be moulded, not the rock that needs to be chiseled with lots of effort. Your mentor may not also have that patience.
5. Be Patient
Take it as it comes. Something’s may be difficult to do (different from how you’ve done it). Sometimes, initially it’s a good idea to just follow suit till you get your bearings right and then exercise your judgment on how you want to implement learning’s – blindly or applying the filter of your realities and then implementing. Like the paint teacher told a frustrated artist who didn’t want to be taught the process of painting but wanted to go with the flow – like the famous Italian painter – Michelangelo. The teacher’s reply was befitting – “first become Michelangelo and then break the rules”.

6. Continue Being a Learner
You know this from your perspective of a mentee and it sounds obvious. But look at it from your mentor’s perspective – you mentor needs to know that you are still willing to learn and flexible. There may come a time of ego/ overconfidence while you are still in the learning process. Either stop it yourself – or learn to accept the rap on your knuckles like a gift – a lesson.

7. Action your Learnings
Let your actions speak. Like any potter would want nice soft, creamy clay to mould – so would a mentor prefer someone who gets moulded; ie starts showing change in behavior/ actions/ results. While the benefits of getting results are obvious for you in terms of your confidence and self-esteem etc.; again look at it from your mentor’s perspective. This will have a huge positive impact on your mentor’s confidence in you and desire to work more with you. The more you DO – The more you GET, the more you BECOME.

8. The Power of Three
And finally you need to have/ build on the Power of Three – a very keen sense of Observation, Empathy and Courage.

Observation to be able to see and learn – not everything will be explicitly spelled out. Eg – your mentor may role model behaviors for you to pick up, without telling you. You need to have that level of sensitivity and observation to get it.

Empathy is being able to sense and see where your mentor is coming from. The ability to suspend your strong views on the subject (and your ego) and be able to appreciate another perspective.

Courage to try your very different approaches. To take that risk. And most importantly courage to be able to look into the mirror that your mentor is holding up for you.

That leaves us with just one closing thought – what are YOU doing to “get” a good mentor?


Author: Gatik Chaujer, Managing Director, TransforME