On mentoring and in the end being mentored…

I have had the opportunity to mentor a number of people over the years. Normally I work with 1-2 people at a time as a mentor and then I have someone I work with who mentors me. Yesterday I had the first chance to meet my newest mentee. A very impressive up and coming professional.

First off, it was amazing to talk to someone as young as this person and realize they were more together at their age than I was by a factor of ten. Then I realized, and caught myself, it doesn’t matter how old you are it is what you are capable of.

I reminded my new mentee that experience and age aren’t the same thing. It is hard as you move along in your career to remember that talent is at every age not just those with experience. So my new mentee has talent, potential and skills. A great combination to have regardless of any point in your career.

Being a mentor is an interesting scenario, well at least for me. I’ve mentored a number of people over the years both formally and informally. I can honestly say there isn’t a person I’ve mentored that didn’t become a great friend of mine. Someone I make a point to stay connected with (and they connect as well). I am careful about who I offer to guide but still it always ends up being a great friendship.

Most of the people I’ve mentored have far surpassed any career of goals I’ve had. I’ve come to realize that I get as much out of the relationship as the mentee does. I guess it should be a dual mentorship rather than the traditional mentor/mentee relationship.

My lesson learned from yesterday is that if you want to make a decision ask other people how they make decisions and why they ended up making those decisions in the past. The thinking process for the what and why of a decision help you make your own decision. I realized this after the fact as I was sitting at my desk at work.

Find out why other people make decisions. Evaluate the steps, process and in the end drivers they had and go from there. I knew that before the session yesterday. I’ve known that for years but sitting at my desk it was solidified. Coalesced as it were into a single unified view of the what and how of decisions not only for myself but for those around me.

Perhaps that is the teacher in me. The piece of my father I carry forward with me. That I learn as much sometimes from watching others figure things out as I do in a more traditional way. I like to puzzle my way through problems. Look at the issue, or concern or broken piece from every angle. There are untold tales in examining the world. It reminds me of the end of a book…

For years I have lamented the end of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. “Oh brave new world to have people such as this in it.” I’ve always thought that was a negative line, a view of the world declining. I wonder after yesterday if in fact it isn’t a positive line. That the world in the end can turn around and be a much better place.

Experience is watching the world around you and wondering if things could work better.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.