The idea of being a mentor, comes from the character with the same name in Homer’s Odessey, where Mentor has a teaching, encouraging, and oversight relationship with Telemachus, Odysseus’s son. The English language adopted the term to mean (via Wikipedia):

Mentor: someone who imparts wisdom to and shares knowledge with a less experienced colleague.

The past couple of weeks have seen an increase in professional mentoring activities for me, some of these have come as unexpected opportunities, such as:

  • a high school graduate deciding on scholarship opportunities to study at a choice of three universities,
  • a manager asking for advice on discussing employee performance,
  • a second year student asking for advice on summer work placements and the benefits of options on future job prospects,
  • an engineer looking for professional growth resources,
  • a manager looking at potential job opportunities in other organizations.

I feel blessed to be able to dwell on these questions and provide input based on my experiences.

“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” – Steven Spielberg

Mentoring is a professional activity that doesn’t necessarily generate income or direct benefits for the mentor, but I’ve found that the benefits include:

  • practicing inter-generational communication
  • improves listening skills
  • exploring new questions and ideas
  • building a reputation as a subject matter expert
  • practicing leadership outside of my direct team
  • giving back is fun and energizing
  • it promotes¬†a culture of professional growth

“The mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting” –¬†Plutarch

Published by Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.