In a recent article “Changing the game – The power of conscious mentoring” we challenged the very core of mentorship as we know it. The article suggested that mentors could offer a game-changing perspective for their mentees if they are more conscious at the start of their mentoring relationship.

But what about the mentee?  Mentoring, after all is about them! The mentee is no longer a passive recipient but an active learner and an owner of their own development. So how about embarking on a journey that encourages the mentee to be more conscious? A process that will allow them to pause, reflect, and discover which essentials or fundamental behaviours should come FIRST before they can expect to profit from any mentoring relationship.

“FIRST” is an acronym that will introduce mentees to 5 essentials that should be foremost of importance for their mentoring relationships. We will explore each of the elements of  F I R S T,  not in a spelling order, but in a practical and relational sequence to illustrate the mentees contribution to the flow and value of a mentoring relationship.

f i r S t –Self-awareness

Mentees who enter into a mentoring relationship with a degree of self-awareness are better equipped to actively engage in the process. They have a foundational understanding of their goals, aspirations and areas for improvement.  This allows mentees to articulate their expectations more clearly to their mentor, making the mentoring process more targeted and purposeful.

Mentees should embrace the concept of journaling. It is the art of taking notice, paying attention, and being more aware of their own world.  In today’s fast paced world that we find ourselves, our real strength does not lie in taking action and responding in the moment, but in purposeful reflections that will enhance greater understanding and self-awareness. In the words of Socrates, ‘The unexamined life is not worth living’.

Do you create opportunities for reflection that allows for greater self-awareness?

fIrst –Integrity towards yourself

Integrity means being honest and having a strong moral compass. None of us want to be known as someone who is dishonest or unfaithful. Here is a question that only you can answer when you hold up the mirror to reflect on integrity. Do you keep promises and commitments you make to yourself? You could possibly answer this question when you reflect on your track record around self-care, honouring commitments in self- improvement or furthering your studies for professional development? The mirror question will always ask you. “Do you have integrity towards yourself?”

Integrity towards yourself drives the message that mentoring is about you and that you should keep commitments you make to yourself. Being honest with yourself is probably the best quality you can gift yourself.

fiRst –Take responsibility for the relationship

Mentoring is a partnership and you are not in it alone. Someone needs to be responsible for this partnership and we believe that mentees should show up as the “senior” partner, or to clarify, the leading/responsible partner in the relationship.

Being responsible involves setting clear objectives, schedule meetings and to seek opportunities for learning. Modern mentoring is reciprocal by nature. Mentees should recognize that their mentor is a guide, not a solution to all challenges. Mentees could also share their latest insights or solutions to enlighten their mentors and even impart their own wisdom and insights on topics where they are more knowledgeable and confident than their mentors.

Do you act as if you are the responsible partner of your mentoring relationship?

f i r s TTrust

 Building trust is not solely the responsibility of the mentor in the relationship with a mentee; it’s a joint endeavour. Mentees should also actively work to build reciprocal trust that enhances the overall effectiveness of the mentoring relationship. Consider that trust comprise of 3 pillars. Competence, Character and Care. These “pillars”  should highlight the behaviours that are essential for the stability and strength of any relationship. How well do you cultivate trust in your mentoring relationship?

First –Feedback

Ken Blanchard, author of The One Minute Manager, once said, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions”. This statement suggests that just as breakfast is an essential and nourishing start to the day, feedback is first and foremost for a mentee’s learning, growth and development.  As a mentee, you should therefore not view feedback as an unpleasant event where you receive comments that are negative or harsh, but rather as a “breakfast” from someone who cares. Such feedback can redirect behaviour, offer greater self-awareness and afford you opportunities to improve and reinforce effective ways of doing. Remember a conscious mentee not only seeks feedback actively but also accepts it graciously.

Are you actively pursuing feedback?

Closing thoughts

The best way to get a mentor and to gain value from the process is to be worth mentoring. Mentoring offers so much that will help you to become more, but no one is going to hold your hand and walk you out of mediocrity. You can navigate the mentor-mentee relationship with the guiding principles encapsulated in the acronym FIRST:

F             Pursue Feedback with an open mind will set the foundation for improvement.

I              Integrity towards yourself will hold you accountable to your personal and developmental commitments.

R            Take Responsibility for the relationship, it will foster a collaborative and mutually beneficial relationship where you are the owner.

S            Cultivate Self-awareness is the key to what you need to facilitate a purposeful growth journey.

T             Build Trust with your mentor. It is the cornerstone of your relationship and a foundation to explore the mentor-mentee dynamic.

By embodying these FIRST principles, mentees not only enrich their learning experience but also contribute to the creation of a profitable mentorship relationship. Simply, it means that mentees view the mentoring relationship not as a transaction but as an investment, knowing that the dividends earned (what you get out of the relationship) will be proportional to the effort invested.

Enjoy your mentoring relationships!

Zandi Njilo and Niel Steinmann

PDD Innovation 2024

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.Required fields are marked *