Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Don't Give Back to the Community!
Mentoring isn't about giving back to the community. It's about taking. Because you take more than you give, when you Mentor someone.
In the Karate dojo, oftentimes a senior student is assigned a junior or beginning student to teach a Kata (stylized "Forms," that teach certain techniques). This is not because the Grandmaster is busy or too lazy. It's because in teaching others you learn yourself. Not only do you consolidate what you have learned, but you become aware of beginner's mistakes in a way that you might not have focused on before. You start to realize all the small details that you now recognize immediately, and compare them to how puzzling they were at an earlier stage of learning.
Aside from learning, there is the enthusiasm aspect. Working with beginners, you see a raw enthusiasm which you may have lost as you lost your own hunger to attain excellence, and the ever illusive perfection. Seeing an eager beginner tends to reawaken that hunger. And enthusiasm is infectious. And God knows, we need an epidemic of this -- especially in the hidebound large Enterprise, where loads of "Mere Paycheck Collectors" infest every department, including the technology departments. A pandemic of passion for work would make the world a better place.
This is why someone recently coined the term "reverse-mentors" to describe the inverse relationship between a Mentor and his protege.
If you're not selfishly getting more out of Mentoring that you're putting in, then you're not doing it right.
I remain, Ever the Taker,