Making the Most of Mentors
What is a mentor?
By definition, a mentor is anyone who acts as an experienced person who you can trust to advise you in any particular area of your life. This can refer to your personal life, managing your personal finances, and especially your life as a student and future employee in the automotive or motorsports fields.
What many people overlook is that a mentor doesn’t just have to be a living, breathing person that you know personally. Expand your definition and understanding of what a mentor is. A person can also be your mentor through their content, such as through the books they write or the videos they produce. This is why there exists books in every field which were written a long time ago which are still used as references today; because some mentors share knowledge which is truly timeless.
This sort of indirect mentorship goes a long way towards helping you increase your knowledge and abilities in life, if you can make the most of it.
To make 2019 the best year you’ve had so far, here are a few ways to help you make the most out of the mentors you’ve chosen to guide you in life.
Absorb as much as you can
First and foremost, you should actively seek out as much knowledge as you can from your mentor.
This means actively listening during conversations with them, asking follow-up questions, and also finding out if they’ve recorded their knowledge in any way. These ‘recordings’ could be in the form of articles, books, videos, or any other form of media that they have used to store their knowledge.
Experts in any field have usually given interviews or even written articles for journals or magazines, sharing their knowledge with the world. If you’ve chosen someone as your mentor, you should be up to date with a lot of the content that they’ve put out!
Face-to-face interactions are great, but a good way to learn from our mentors even when we’re not in front of them is to learn through their content.
Understand their strengths and weaknesses
Our mentors are living, breathing human beings just like we are. This means that they are good at certain things but also weak in other areas. We have to be honest and understand their strengths and weaknesses so that we can manage our expectations.
One mentor might be stronger when it comes to automotive electronics, while another may be more knowledgeable when it comes to engine systems. Understanding this will help you in choosing your mentors based on your knowledge gaps, or based on your needs at any moment.
Understand this: nobody said that a person can only have one mentor! Having mentors with different strengths is good because their lessons will complement each other, giving you a more holistic body of knowledge as you move forward in your life and career.
Dare to ask questions
When it comes to mentors and their lessons, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Remember the golden rule: “There are no ‘stupid’ questions”.
A good mentor will appreciate enthusiastic and will try their best to share their knowledge and experience with their students or ‘mentees’. Of course, to make your interactions more productive it would be good for you to try and find the answers or solutions yourself first, and then consult your mentor when you’re facing difficulties along the way. Not only does this make your interactions more fruitful, it also demonstrates to your mentors that you have actually put in the work before coming to them for answers.
In the case of mentors that you’ve learned from through books, a common practice is for followers to discuss their lessons on forums online. On such forums, students such as yourself can pose questions and someone with a deeper understanding of the lessons will usually respond and help fill in the gaps for you. A quick Google search is all you need to find forums and websites where people are discussing your mentor’s teachings; sometimes even the comments section of Youtube videos can be the stage for some lively discussions!
Trust them, but be selective about what works for you
At the end of it all, a mentor is meant to guide you, but they are not meant to make your decisions for you. Absorb as much as you can from the mentors that you find helpful, but then filter out the information that you believe is not useful for you. Sometimes, the best lessons can only be learned through personal experience.