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CultureFeb 18, 2020

Word to the Wise: 3 Tips When Learning from a Mentor

Cole Ogden

Learning from a mentor is one of the most priceless opportunities for growth. A mentor can push you beyond your comfort zone. They can inspire you to go to the next level. And they will be there for you in times of need!

A mentor is definitely a relationship that will come in handy in many situations. Learning from their experience can put you years ahead of your own.

I’ve had the privilege of learning from many great leaders in my life. One of whom is Dave Thomas. Dave is the author of many books on programming and one of his most famous is The Pragmatic Programmer. I’ve taken many lessons from this book.

I’ve learned from Dave, not only in his books but also in the classroom as well. In my final semester at SMU, I attended his ‘Programming the Functional Future’ class. Through both his book and his class, Dave, in essence, has served as a mentor for me.

I’ve taken many lessons from Dave’s teachings and I’d like to share three with you that I think will add value when you think about learning from a mentorship relationship:

1. Have a Teachable Spirit

Having a teachable spirit will allow the lessons of a mentor to be sown on fertile soil. A mentor will enjoy having someone to invest in who takes their lessons and actually applies them – the last thing they would want is to give advice that’s not received. It is up to the mentee to be proactive in seeking out how to apply the knowledge as best as possible.

2. Seek Excellence

Becoming a master of your craft is a necessity for two reasons: you will be a valuable aid to your mentor, and you will be able to become the best that you can possibly be.

Prior to having Phil Jackson as his coach, Michael Jordan won zero championships. The moment Phil Jackson stepped in the locker room; they won three champions in a row just one year after Phil joined the team. You need to have a mentor who can pull the best out of you.

3. Capitalize on Time Spent Together

A mentor’s time is valuable. The last thing you want to do is waste it. Take the time, prior to meeting, to plan how to maximize time together. It will serve you in the long run. I encourage you to write down questions, consider areas of interest, and opportunities of growth for you that you can explore during your time together. A mentor will know that you value their time based on the proactive steps you took before the meeting.

advance your learning

I’ve shared with you three insights that have challenged me significantly in my learning journey. I encourage all of you to find a mentor who you can learn from and be willing to follow their counsel. It will serve you extensively in your career.

We are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to hear from Dave Thomas at Credera on the 15th of February. Dave joins us to speak on how he is redefining himself as a programmer. It will be a great learning experience for all. I look forward to seeing you there.