You Can Be a World Class Mentor

Almost 25 years ago, I was assigned an employee to mentor for the very first time. I had no idea how to mentor someone, but proud and excited to be asked. I was also scared. Mentoring is not a skill that was taught in any class I took. I never received training. I was just expected to know how.

I scheduled the first meeting with my new mentee with no agenda. We were just going to meet each other and talk. My plan as a mentor was to share experiences and give advice. That is what a mentor does, right?

After the first meeting I became discouraged. I felt inadequate and worthless. I had no sense of the direction to lead my mentee. I was not sure how I could help this person.

We continued to meet, but the meetings were not productive. I struggled adding future meetings to my calendar because I had more important things to do. Activities in which I provided more value to the company than mentoring. After a few months we just stopped meeting. I had failed with my first mentee.

I am glad that over the next 25 years, I was able to develop world class mentoring skills. It would never have happened if I had not failed first. People that avoid failure, risk never experiencing the event that will positively change their life forever.

For some time, I avoided mentoring, but soon I was assigned another mentee. The second experience was better, but ultimately a failure. In fact, I continued to fail several more times. I learned from my mistakes. I sought out training. I learned more by doing than from books. I had to be willing to face my mistakes, and do the work required to improve.

Being a great mentor is not easy. There is not one single skill that automatically makes a good mentor. Good mentors have a long list of skills including listening, teaching, training, guiding, storytelling, coaching, and most importantly human personalities and motivations.

You can be a world class mentor. It requires life skills that grow through experience, failure, improvement, and practice. What lessons have you learned making you a better mentor? Have you learned more from a book, or by practice? What are you learning now, that will make you a better mentor?


A Failure of Ethics

Recently, a Philadelphia prosecutor was charged with accepting luxury gifts in excess of $160,000 in exchange for official favors. He has admitted to receiving the gifts, but has plead not guilty to bribery and extortion charges.

I do not know how this will be resolved, but whatever the outcome, it is clear that the prosecutor had a breakdown of ethics. This news stood out to me as an all too common example. The strength of our democracy relies on the values of its individuals. It was a strong sense of values that led the United States to declare independence.

Every individual that is willing to ignore the human values that are within their heart, will ultimately destroy themselves and others.

That is a strong statement. I believe it to be true. If you can not live out your own values, you will have a negative effect on our society.

No one is perfect. We struggle against challenges, issues, and problems each day. It is easy to give in… to bend the rules. In the case of this prosecutor, he accepted inappropriate gifts.

We become better by overcoming the challenges. We become stronger by solving the problems. It is not easy to stand by your values. But it will make you stand out in a society that at times seems to be crumbling at the edges.