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Mentoring and the Give and Take From It

Jim Mack

Most people agree that mentees receive enormous benefits from mentors. In fact, in the 15 years I've been working with mentors and mentees, I've only met a handful of individuals who didn't see any benefits of linking up with a mentor.

Selling mentors, however, is becoming more challenging. Successful people are getting busier, and many aren't sure they want to make time to serve as mentors. If you're debating about playing this role, here are some of the most important reasons for investing at least two hours a month (24 hours a year) to help a mentee.

1. You'll learn. By serving as a mentor, you'll learn from your mentees. They'll have knowledge you don't have, maybe teach you a new job-specific skill, and help you enhance your people-development skills, which you can use with your own employees and even your family and friends. In the process, you'll also learn more about yourself.

2. This is a chance to pay back. In the past, you may have received good mentoring from someone and never had a chance to show your gratitude to him or her directly. You now have an opportunity to reciprocate and "put something back into the pot."

3. You could receive recognition from peers and superiors. Being an effective people developer won't go unrecognized. In fact, if you're in management, you'll be officially or unofficially rated on your ability to recognize and groom talent. If you're in a formal mentoring program, it's likely you'll be recognized for your contribution.

4. You may get some extra work done! Remember how you paid your dues by doing routine tasks for a mentor? Within ethical limits, your mentees can work on your research, help with a project, or finish other work that remains undone.

5. You'll review and validate what you know and what you've accomplished. Teaching another helps you review and reframe all you've learned about that subject. You'll realize that you've accomplished much more than you thought.

6. You'll be more likely to move into "Generativity" (vs. "Stagnation"). Erik Erikson said you'll reach a critical decision point in your mid- to late-30s. You can give up (moving into a Stagnation phase), or you can thrive, proceeding to Generativity and happy 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond. You do this by realizing you've been through and mastered much, a new generation is coming behind you, and you have a lot to offer it. Being an effective mentor can actually catapult you into successful Regenerativity.

7. You'll probably feel satisfied, proud, and other energizing emotions. When you have a positive effect on your mentees, expect several positive feelings of pride, satisfaction, happiness, contentment, and excitement along with the enjoyable physiological reactions that go with them.

8. Mentoring could have future personal payoffs. When mentees are successful, they often reward their mentors. Even if this isn't your reason for helping, you could receive grateful thanks, notoriety, jobs, invitations, and other future opportunities to contribute and celebrate.

9. You'll help your organization. Mentoring employees can help give your organization a recruitment edge, shorten learning curves, increase your mentees' job satisfaction and loyalty, and improve productivity and quality.

10. You'll leave the world better than you found it. It's been said before, and it's still true. Taking the time to reach out to others, share your life's wisdom, and convey your respect for them is probably the least expensive and most powerful way to change the world, one life at a time.

Jim Mack is the leading authority in teaching actual methods - proven, practical strategies that work. In fact, Jim truly lives the principles he teaches and is the epitome of leading by example. See him at and

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