A friend recently asked me, “How can I ever thank my mentor?”
My simple 4-thing checklist of “giving back”
1. Listen with full attention
God, it feels so good to be truly listened to. Most of us have only felt this a few times in our lives, and when it’s on… you never want to stop sharing yourself.
People who are drawn to mentoring believe they have something to share, and there’s NOTHING more flattering, gratifying, satisfying, than the feeling that what you’re sharing is so important that it warrants another person’s full attention.
You’re listening with full attention if you’re tired after an hour, maybe even half an hour.
2. Make lateral connections
Full, attentive listening enables you to hear the takeaways from the immediate conversation or circumstance, no matter how specific, and apply the takeaways to other areas by distilling their greater meaning.
3. TAKE ACTION
We know those people who seem like they’re listening because they give “uh huh, uh huh, uh huh” feedback, and then nothing changes.
It’s a really standout person who can be the opposite, and take action.
When you water a plant, and the next day it grows taller, that action’s a reward that makes you want to keep watering it (not ignore it).
4. Follow up
A ‘thank you’ is an obvious follow-up. A “here’s how I’m doing AND thank you” check-in is less obvious and requires thought and care.
That’s the kind of follow-up that makes me want to keep giving generously through mentorship.
Most times I’ve been asked for advice, the asker takes my time/ effort and forgets to follow up. It’s not malicious, but definitely reminds me not to spend that time/ effort on that person again.
Thank yous never have to be lavish, just earnest, true and — most important — consistent.