Reposted with permission. Original posted on LinkedIn, November 20, 2018.
I remember the first time someone asked me if I would be their mentor. I had a generally good understanding of her capability and potential. So I said yes. She never booked time with me, we never had a conversation about her aspirations or her development. But once in a while she would mention how she appreciated having me as a mentor. Which seems to have meant nothing more than her observing me from afar. Lovely, but a shining example of what mentorship is NOT.
Good mentorship takes a mentee who has an objective in mind, is willing to learn something about themselves and willing to ‘do the work’. And it takes a mentor who is willing to listen, ask sometimes tough questions and share a point of view.
Luckily most of the mentorship relationships I’ve had through the years have skewed much more to the ‘good’ side of the ledger.
Some start by chance. I often meet people in my travels who spark my interest – at events, discussion groups, in an elevator (well, once!). One of the joys of my life is to invite these people to have lunch or coffee. I meet interesting people and sometimes those lunches turn into an ongoing commitment to support them in their personal and career development. Some of these relationships are people I have mentored for years.
And others start through ‘programs’ like the one I do with WIFT-T (Women in Film and Television – Toronto) — WIFT Connect. I met a young woman last year through this program who I adored. She really ‘did the work’. We spent a lot of our time together talking about personal branding. Each time we met she left with exercises to do, and she always did them! She would even send me pictures of the index cards, or whatever the task was. I loved that.
I am mentoring two young women through the WIFT Connect program this year. I met them both this evening. They are both smart, interesting, unique people and I can hardly wait to get to know them. They are definitely people I would have invited to lunch had I met them in another way—most definitely a joy in my life!