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How to Excel as a Mentee

Trying to impress your mentor is one of the greatest barriers to mentoring.


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Ben Dankaka

2 years ago | 2 min read

While it is the responsibility of your mentor to speak and instruct you, it is your duty to listen and learn from your mentor at every given opportunity. As a mentee, constantly remind yourself you are a student. Therefore, your mentor is your teacher. Like every other teacher, your mentor is expected to own the stage. The one who owns the stage holds the microphone. As long as your mentor is holding the microphone, be the listener. Never try to take the role of your mentor by doing much of the speaking. Unless you’ve been permitted, don’t try to dominate the conversations you have with your mentor. Let your mentor speak as much as possible. During your meetings with your mentor, speak less.

The first time I had a mentor, I had the habit of speaking too much whenever we met. Instead of allowing my mentor to speak, I would spend the whole time talking about my activities and vision. And when I left my mentor’s office, it would dawn me I didn’t learn much for the period of the meeting. Because I did more of the talking, my mentor didn’t get enough time to share his views with me. Every so often, we make such mistakes because we are trying to impress our mentors. In our attempts to update them on some of the great things we are doing, we use up the whole time that should have been dedicated to listening.

Oftentimes, mentees overshadow the conversations they have with their mentors because they want to show off their intelligence. Instead of doing the listening, they dominate mentoring sessions by speaking about their views and ideas. They want their mentors to know how intelligent and knowledgeable they are in certain areas regarding their fields. They think that by expressing their “intelligent” views, they would earn the respect of their mentor. When you try to impress your mentor with your own knowledge or skills, it would prevent you from learning what you ought to learn. Trying to impress your mentor is one of the greatest barriers to mentoring. If you let your ego stand in the way, you will eventually create a mental barrier between you and your mentor.

Always keep in mind that the main reason for any mentoring program is learning. Even if you realize you know a particular subject better than your mentor, don’t try to bring it up. Always acknowledge your mentor’s wisdom and accomplishments. When you meet them for the first time you could say: “I really respect the success you have achieved in this field. Could you mentor me on how I could be successful like you?” It takes humility to be able to say that to someone.

This article is an excerpt from my book; Learn to Lead. To gain more insights on how you can build your leadership skills, you can read more on Amazon Kindle or purchase the complete book.

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Ben Dankaka

Author/Trainer — I share inspirational ideas on leadership.


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