I have an old friend whom was once a co-worker and mentor to me as I switched work groups. You don’t find or are lucky enough to run into to many like him. For if you meet someone who freely shares valuable knowledge and insights and doesn’t use that as power but as shared growth, then you have found a special person. I know this because long after we worked together we are still together in sharing lessons of life.
So I took this trip to Easton to see my old friend. A wonderful use of time because its like going to see Obe Wan Kenobi. A man of infinite wisdom and common sense. And of course with any of my friends a few laughs were shared.
I’ve always tried to do this (mentoring) myself. I’ve enjoyed the last several years sharing my knowledge and watching co-workers grow quickly. But what worries me is that most work cultures don’t seem to support, reward or hold out as examples, people who are mentors. Things are so competitive now. you might have small teams that collaborate. But they even hold their cards close to their chest.
It also takes a person who is confident in their own abilities and not scared of giving away tips, tricks, insights, shortcuts and all the way to high level knowledge. Because the confidence is they are always growing themselves and staying ahead of others. In other words leading by example. Being able to hold those gazillions of solutions in your head. Being able to have an intuition that is ahead of others. Being organized and meticulous in your work habits. Recognizing who to watch, learn and emulate the habits of or seeking knowledge of those ahead of you.
But confidence is only half the battle. It takes a ton of time and effort and patience. You don’t get to choose who you’re working with in most cases. And in some cases its hard to continue to do it with people who don’t seem to appreciate it. But there are those who always hold what you have shared as special and a gift. And therefore a gratitude is shared. No I’m not talking monetary things. A simple thank you or smile or handshake. The acknowledgement that time and effort was taken to share. I don’t look for it or expect it but its nice when it’s received and I let them know that. I know that I’ve been doing this to some degree of success over time because I have relationships with people I have worked and shared with over many decades. I think it’s always because I’ve looked at situations like it was a team first. Its better if were all successful.
And it’s usually the ones that themselves have a drive, confidence and will end up sharing with others. But along the way they remember their mentors. But again, there are more that won’t share than will. And that is kind of sad that we foster such a competitive situation internally where people use knowledge as power against co-workers. But I guess that has always been the case to some degree.
All I know is that I’ve been in a role most of my life where I’ve trained and shared with many people. It is both very rewarding and very stressful or disappointing at times. But if I had it to do all over again. I wouldn’t change a thing in how I’ve worked with others.
Also please don’t get me wrong here. I don’t do this because I’m told to. I don’t do it because I think it will earn me points in managements eyes. (I have a severe history of being very outspoken against management). I do it because it feels natural and the right thing to do and I’ve been around some people all my career that always shared that same work philosophy.
I think this is something my closest group of friends also have in their hearts and execute in their jobs. And another reason we can share and talk about work and give each other tips and things to think about in difficult times. And while most of them have gone the management route (all still fine technicians none the less) I’ve stayed on the more technical track after a decade or two of managing.
Today I have no management responsibilities. But if you’re a mentor, your always RESPONSIBLE. For not only yourself but your team.
Sorry if this rambling mess of words doesn’t make sense. I’m kind of tired today.