Mentorship. People can never be great on their own, because they stop themselves short at where they perceive their limits to be. It takes a mentor to continue to encourage them and push them past those limits. Mentors exist to give important guidance and advice on life. As a friend, they can assist you professionally and emotionally, sharing in both your triumphs and your defeats. In high school, I thought having a mentor (or even being someone’s mentor) was useless and a waste of energy. I resented the grades above me and those below me, and teachers were more instructors and less your friend. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed my time in high school very much, and my classmates were great people. What I am trying to say is that back then, I did not value the friendship of older people who could guide me through life. Reading the Mentoring Guide made me realize that many of the friendships I struck with older friends when I got to Tech took the form of collegial mentoring relationships. It was a double-edged sword. My older friends gave me so much help that saved a freshman kiddo like me so much time, effort, and heartbreak. But because they were older, I lost them sooner to the bitter-sweetness that was graduation. I lost my best friend after my 1st year, and then lost my best friend halfway through my 2nd year, and I am in the process of losing my best friend now again. It took them three to be in my life and bless it so that I would learn the importance of having someone to pour into you.
Leadership. To be a true leader, you need to know when to not be the leader. In school we were told that leadership abilities couldn't be learned, and that you had to be born with them. I think that’s complete garbage. Leadership is an immanent quality that springs to life in a person when they feel confident in their subject matter. One of the things I really liked about Vora’s article is that a great leader knows how to leverage their teammates' knowledge for the betterment of the whole team and project. This is such an important quality because a great leader will recognize the importance of forming a strong relationship with all his team members, and that through these relationships he/she will know their colleagues’ (now friends) strengths and weaknesses. One of the reasons I’m really excited about the group project is that we have allowed each member to play to their own strengths and decide which project buckets they want to tackle. It took a great leader (*cough*Amy*cough*) to see that as the best strategy.
Feedback. Feedback is one of those necessary evils that no one ever enjoys giving, but is so beneficial to receive (when done right, of course). Just like Meyer writes, Americans tend to sandwich their criticisms in compliments because they hate giving critical feedback outright. No one likes being told that they’re doing something wrong. I’m just the same. Of the steps that Robin listed in the last article, one of the most common things I am guilty of doing is not bringing up my concerns with a team member until it’s too late (#1). Way too often, I am afraid of souring a working relationship with a colleague, especially right at the onset of collaboration. It’s one of the things I’m learning to work on right now. Fortunately, it doesn't seem to look like I will have to give any negative feedback to my colleagues in this group!
Mentorship Guide –
Traits of a Leader –
Feedback I –
Feedback II –