When I started my career I didn’t know what mentoring is. As I progressed, after sometime I started realising that there’s no one to guide, no one to point mistakes, no one to give feedback If I’m making wrong decisions. I made a lot of mistakes, sometime lost confidence and morale but then slowly I started learning from my own mistakes and worked on myself. It took a longer time obviously to learn from my own mistakes and then pull myself back up. Also, it doesn’t mean that I don’t make mistakes today.
After that I realised that if there was someone who could have guided or helped me then it would have been much better. That’s where I discovered the exact meaning of the term mentoring.
The simplest definition of mentoring
Mentoring is sharing knowledge, skills and life experience to guide another person towards reaching their full potential. It’s a journey of shared discovery.
And soon after sometime I felt that there would be so many people like me who would be feeling the same - finding someone to help them, guide them to bring the best out with their potential. That basically is where I started my mentorship journey. I didn’t had a tag which made me to do this mentoring, all I used to do was help someone from my connections be it colleagues, peers or my friends. That is what mentoring is to me.
Treebo again was a big part of this because that’s where I learnt most of the real-life lessons. I met Varun at Treebo who’s a great mentor to me. I used to ask him tons of questions and also observe how he used to help people, guide them and bring the best out of them. I met Lakshya who had a similar past when it came to mentoring and we used to brainstorm a lot around this. And since Treebo being the company known for it’s culture we literally leveraged it to help a lot of our peers and guided them towards reaching their full potential.
Soon I realised that mentoring is a very natural thing for me. I never wore the title of a “mentor” explicitly(I don’t think something like that exists either), nor did someone ask me to do it as part of my job. I used to do it willingly.
To me it is very gratifying to share my knowledge, skills and life experience with people, help them and then see them excel in their journey in their own ways. I always felt that whatever issues I had faced during the early days of my career at least someone who’s in my connection shouldn’t face it and for that I can go out of my ways to help them and do whatever I can.
When someone asks me whether I like mentoring. I don’t know how to answer that because it’s not about liking or disliking for me personally. It is very inherent and natural to me.
Ultimately mentoring someone is like helping them, guiding them to identify their true potential by giving them proper feedbacks. It is not a task or a responsibility and everyone can do it. There’s no eligibility criteria as to who can qualify to be a mentor. Similarly there’s no eligibility criteria as to who can become a mentee. You can mentor anyone your friends, your colleagues, your peers, you cousins anyone. I have few good friends(Siddharth) who have have at times played the role of mentors intentionally/unintentionally.
Few things I’ve learnt from mentoring so far:
- Never make it look like a formal mentoring conversation.
- Make it casual, make it informal make the other person feel comfortable because then only they’ll be able to open up.
- Give proper constructive feedbacks. If you can help them with the action items that would be great.
- Give them contextual examples from some of the philosophies, strategies and your past experience. Don’t just narrate all the motivational quotes because people have read them enough. They are in front of you to talk about something meaningful and practical.
Mentoring is multifaceted. It can be at your work or outside of your work. It can be formal or informal and may change and evolve as the needs of the mentee change. A mentor can be a role model, coach, sounding board, voice of reason, counsellor and a trusted resource. Mentors care and assure their mentee that they are not alone in dealing with day-to-day challenges. They help them believe that they matter.
Few of my friends love doing mentoring outside their work to help people in whichever ways they can:
Neha - Who does open hours in which people can pick a free slot from her calendar and she does one on one conversations with them.
Tanay - Who mentors students by conducting live Q&A sessions on Instagram, YouTube, podcast series, AMA.
If you have something to talk or discuss about something or need some help my DMs are open on Twitter. I’m happy to help in whatever ways I can in my capacity 😊