If you are being mentored or plan to be someday in the future, this post is for you. We can all benefit from having a mentor, no matter how experienced we are.
Last time I wrote about the role of the mentor (link here) and what is involved. This time the tables are turned and we’ll discuss the job of the mentee. The truth is, even mentors need to be mentored.
Having the privilege of being helped by someone that has been-there-and-done-that is certainly helpful, but it’s not a one-way street. Some may think that you can just sit back and let the mentor spoon-feed you. That’s not the way it works.
Like anything, the more you put in, the more you get out.
Here’s some commonsense steps for being a good understudy. I would also stipulate that these are good strategies for life in general.
1.) Stay positive: If you maintain a can-do attitude, you will get to your goals faster. Nothing is harder for a mentor than to be constantly having to talk you off the ledge. If you keep seeing yourself accomplishing the task, eventually you’ll get there. It’s ok to be hard on yourself, but don’t turn every misstep or setback into a tragedy.
2.) Be a good communicator: You have to be able and willing to talk with your mentor. If they don’t know what’s going on, how can they be effective? They need to know your goals, your struggles, and where you believe you excel. Communication also means listening. If you want to get the most out of the relationship, you have to be a good listener.
3.) Take responsibility for your own actions: If you are the kind of person who blames everything on someone, or something else, you need to get your head screwed on straight. Flying does not suffer fools. If you and your mentor are at odds, it might be because you are refusing to look into the mirror.
4.) Stay open to advice: You need to be open to suggestions and input. Sometimes it might not make sense. This is where communications plays a role. Mentors are certainly not perfect. They may even give you bad advice. The idea is to have an open mind and ask questions. Ultimately you have to make the final decision.
5.) Be a hard worker: As the saying goes, people who work hard seem to have the best luck. There’s a reason for that. If you put in the work, you are bound to succeed. It doesn’t mean it will be easier, it just means your chance of success is higher.
So if you want to make the best of your relationship with your mentor and take your flying to the next level, I hope you’ll keep these tips in mind.