Many people credit their success to having had great mentors--and for good reason:
Steve Jobs was a mentor to Mark Zuckerberg. Bill Gates was mentored by Warren Buffet. Sigmund Freud was mentored by Carl Jung. The list goes on.
But what was it about their relationships that helped the mentee and the mentor thrive?
If you want to become a good mentee, start by taking these three steps.
1. You are willing to listen more and talk less.
When you walk into your mentor relationship, check your ego at the door. Know that you are seeking this person out for advice; you need them, they don't need you.
Many of my mentees have approached our relationship seeking validation for their ideas, or past actions. Mentors are not here to validate what you already believe to be true. Instead, walk into the room excited to learn, and listen. I realized part of why mentees come in rambling is because they don't know what else to do. This is why it's key to be intentional.
Fix this by learning how to ask better questions. When a mentee asks a compelling question that makes both of you think, that is when the magic begins to happen. Ask your question, and most importantly, make sure you actually listen. To learn to listen properly is an art, as we live in a world where poor communication rides on people waiting for their turn to speak, rather than actually tuning into the other person. Absorb what feedback, idea or concept is being discussed and allow your silence to show respect for that content.
You will walk away having learned something, and you will have illustrated appreciation for your mentors time.
2. You are resourceful in their outside work and development.
Whatever you do, do not waste your mentor's time by asking questions they have already answered.
I guarantee your ideal mentor has content for you to devour, it's on you to find it and learn from it. I make a great deal of content readily available to anyone, I release articles, send out newsletters and host a motivational podcast that is littered in free content for personal and business development. Consume all of this before you even approach asking a mentor to work with you. Then remember: it's on you to get value out of the relationship. Come to your conversations prepared with an intention and goal.
Not only will this save you and your mentor time when you do meet, but it will also help you determine if this person is the right mentor for you. Read their words, research their history, know who they are and what they stand for before you decide to reach out.
Most of all, don't seek a mentor whose results don't inspire you. This means the results they're creating not just in their professional life, but in their personal one.
3. You an overly curious person with the intention of taking action.
Get really curious about the person you want to mentor you, beyond the content they share to a wider audience. This means being genuine in your desire to work with them and get to know them deeply.
Having a mentor isn't going to make your life easier. Knowing how to ask the right questions and where the answer lies is what will propel you forward. Realize that everyone is a mentor in some capacity, and approach each interaction as an opportunity to learn.
Work with someone because you want their support, not because you need it. This sort of approach and energy is appealing for the mentor as well. If you reach out to ask someone to mentor you and they decline for some reason (perhaps they don't have the time to take on a mentee), respect that and seek mentorship and support from someone else. It is not personal.
Mentorship is a powerful relationship that can be held between not only successful idols, but everyone you meet. Everyone is your student as much as they are your teacher-- and vice versa.
Face each interaction and conversation as a chance to learn and grow, as the world is abundant with opportunities.
You simply have to know how to ask for them.