Traditionally, an eager young (or younger) person, with sincere aspirations to learn, grow and succeed is matched with, or approaches an “older, more experienced, supposedly wiser person” in order to establish a successful mentor/mentee relationship.
In almost all cases, it is assumed that virtually all of the value of a mentor/mentee relationship, commonly known as mentorship, will accrue to the eager younger person who will be observing and learning from the older, more experienced person. As an example, WikipediA describes mentorship as:
- “A personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. The receiver of mentorship was traditionally referred to as a ‘protégé’ or ‘apprentice’ but with the institutionalization of mentoring the more neutral word ‘mentee’ was invented and is widely used today.”
In many mentorships, there is a not-so-subtle understanding that “I am the mentor, you are the mentee, and the time and focus of our relationship will be at my convenience and inclination to spend time and share experience and wisdom with you.” Because of the philosophy, approach, and stated or unstated expectation that the mentee will accrue virtually all the value, that is exactly what happens.
How very unfortunate in my opinion! What a waste of great potential and even higher value of a great mentorship. The fact is, in most cases, the eager younger person has many skills and much knowledge and experience to share with and contribute for significant short and long-term benefit of the “older, more experienced person.” Most eager younger people have great knowledge, skills and experiences that are increasingly crucial in our current and future society and business environment for the “older, more experienced” traditional mentor.
Many increasingly important skills and knowledge seem to come more naturally and more intuitively to eager, highly motivated and inspired younger people. There are hundreds of important examples such as more effectively and efficiently understanding, operating and managing new, more powerful and more comprehensive:
- Internet opportunities, possibilities and applications
- Social networking
- New, better, more powerful, more effective, more efficient “high tech” equipment, tools and applications of all types
- Who, what, when, where, why and how younger people learn, think, perceive, react, and what they prefer in a million different personal and professional situations and scenarios
- The list goes on and on…
It may be unpleasant to accept and admit, but the fact is that by the time most people become a mentor (think early to mid 30s or later); they are already past their prime in terms of learning, memory, flexibility, adaptability, and many other physical and mental abilities and potential. That is not my opinion. That is a well-documented, well-proven physical, mental and scientific fact!
Think of the vast increase in short and long-term value if mentors entered mentorship relationships with the clear and stated expectation that the mentor intends to learn and benefit every bit as much as the mentee. The entire relationship and experience would dramatically change and be far more valuable for all concerned.
Excellent mentors should seek out and accept excellent mentees who can and will teach, share and positively impact the mentor. Now there is a crystal clear, guaranteed formula to double the fun and enjoyment, triple the positive impact, and dramatically multiply the mentorship value for all concerned, including both mentor and mentee.
Think about it. Better yet, make it happen in your life and in your business… The Power of Mutual Mentorship!