Mentoring: Your Role As Mentee

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.


  1. says

    Taking advice is quite exciting. Its a real opportunity to learn. What you learn may or may not work, but that is the excitement of that. You can really become the pilot that you want to be, person you want to be OR the mentor/mentee you want to be! Its quite exciting. Great article.

    Al Waterloo –

  2. Norm says

    I think you missed the point. I thought your article would be about mentoring and encourage pilots to become mentors. You seem to put all the burden on the inexperienced pilot as if they should be admonished for even requesting some help or advice. That’s the treatment I’ve gotten over the last 20 years. I certainly believe the majority of mentored would . They seem to be in short supply.

    After I received my Private license, I was dropped like a hot potato from the pilot group at my airport. The reply I often received was: ” You are licensed now and shouldn’t need any help.” Or, “I don’t have time. Go find an instructor.” One gets a bitter taste and discouraged after a few of these replies. My flying never became fun. I guess I learned quickly that I was inconveniencing and asking for too much from experienced pilots.

    • Pat says

      Norm, the role of the mentor was looked at in a previous post by the author at The point of this post is that the mentee also has an important role in making a mentor/mentee relationship successful. The fact that you didn’t find a mentor who was a good fit for you could be partly your fault. Maybe you were coming across as more needy than these potential mentors wanted to deal with. In particular, try to establish a friendship first, where you show as much interest in them as you would like them to have in you and don’t make it all about what they can do for you.

  3. says

    The hardest part about being mentored, especially for someone with more experience, is swallowing your pride long enough to be open to advice (step 4!) I think most pilots by nature are highly confident people and this often be the hardest step. I’m happy to see someone list the important qualities one must have to effectively be mentored.

    • says

      Thanks Rob! It is certainly not something that is widely advertised, but it’s important to know how to be open to the process and get the most out of it.


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