A few years ago, in one magic moment, I figured out the secret to being a good mentor and being a good mentee. I realized I could distill all of it down to just one word each.
I had just finished a presentation to a large group of high potential employees and their leaders in New York and was waiting in the lobby of the hotel for my ride to the airport.
I watched as two gentlemen from the group briskly walked over to one another and exchanged a big, warm bear hug. I was intrigued since the group was quite formal.
I walked over to them and asked how they knew one another. They said, almost in unison, that they were mentor and mentee. Always curious, I asked the mentee what made his mentor so great and he said, without skipping a beat, “he was authentic.”
Then I asked the mentor what made his mentee so special and he said (also without skipping a beat) “he was hungry.”
I never forgot those two words, because I think they define a wonderful mentor–mentee relationship and those words can be said about either partner.
Adapted from the forward in Wendy Axelrod’s new book on 10 Steps to Successful Mentoring.