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Managing to Make a Difference by Larry Sternberg

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Chapter 78Become a Better Mentee

Although our discussion focuses on the mentoring relationship, the advice in this chapter applies more broadly to any sort of relationship in which you are being coached, advised, or taught by an individual outside a classroom on an ongoing basis.

To begin, we must recognize that this is similar to asking, “How can I become a better spouse?” or “How can I become a better friend?” It is individualized. It depends on the unique needs of each person in the relationship. All this is much easier if the two of you are a good, natural fit in the first place. When the fit is good, you will have to make fewer changes to become a better mentee for that mentor.

  1. Clarify Expectations Ask your mentor what he or she wants from you in this relationship. This might seem more formal than necessary, but you will both be well served. Too often, in all sorts of relationships, expectations are not clarified, which leads to problems. If your mentor has important expectations that you cannot or do not want to fulfill, it is best to find out as soon as possible.
  2. Larry had a close friend who was a high-powered attorney, dedicated to her career. When she married, she did not know that her husband expected her to cook dinner for him every night, and to otherwise do all the things a non-working spouse would have done in the 1950s. Tragically, it was a deal breaker for both of them.
  3. Take Your Mentor's Advice As Larry's wife, Salli, says, “Why buy a dog and then bark yourself?” ...

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