Begin The Mentoring Process By Knowing Yourself
We know from ecology that a tree planted in a clearing of an old forest will be stronger than one planted in an open field. This is because the roots of the new tree are able to follow the pathways created by former trees and embed themselves more deeply. Over time, the roots of trees graft themselves together forming a system underground. The older trees help the younger ones mature and become stronger. The same principle holds true for mentoring relationships. More seasoned professionals can help less experienced ones grow their careers. But, to be most effective, mentees need to have a clear understanding of the guidance they need.

Where do you begin the process? Before you choose a mentor for yourself, you need to understand your own career aspirations, developmental needs, and goals. If you don’t have a clear vision for your career, you won’t know what guidance you need or even what mentors can help you.

Questions to ask yourself- To help you think through your career path, here are some questions to ask:

    1. What is my ultimate career goal? Do I desire to be an executive or perhaps an owner of my own business?

    2. What is my time frame for reaching that goal? What position do I want to be in 5-10 years from now?

    3. What skills do I need to develop that goal? Will I need more guidance on how to be a leader?

    4. Who do I know (or am aware of) that can help me develop those skills? Who I do I admire that I could approach as being a mentor?

    5. What can I do to contribute to a mentoring relationship? What useful information could I pass on to my mentor?

Mentoring can be a wonderful way to deepen your roots but before you begin, you must, as Stephen Covey once said, “keep the end in mind”. Your responsibility is to have a clear understanding of your where you would like to career to progress. French sociologist August Conte sums it up nicely when he wrote “Know yourself to improve yourself”.