The definition, per the Merriam-Webster dictionary, for mentor is: to teach or give advice or guidance to (someone, such as a less experienced person or a child).

This definition is, of course, true.  However, we can dive a bit deeper into the meaning of mentoring and being a mentor for someone as it relates to the SQL Community.  Or more so, expand on the meaning and add more to the definition, as it is written.

SQL Community Mentoring

I’ve been fortunate in my career and time as a part of the SQL Community, to have a few mentors that are remarkable people in the world of SQL Server.  All of these mentors have formed into dear friendships that could not be replaced with any amount of years continuing in this field.  This brings up the first expansion of the term, Mentoring.  Gaining not only the exchange of knowledge and experiences but friendships that may or may not have, been formed and solidified though mentorships.

Friendship with Mentoring

Being a mentor or having a mentor truly is only successful based on the relationship that you form with the individual that is acting as the mentor or being mentored.  The true needs of mentorship do sit in the need for guidance and there is no doubt to that fact.  However, during that guidance, respect and trust should be formed.  This undoubtedly leads to friendships that last the times.  After all, a friendship in most terms is deemed a mutual mentorship.  Two or more people rely on each other to help them beat the odds of life and career and defeat hurdles that the others may have seen, defeated and gained an aptitude in.

Mentor and Mentoring to be Successful

Mentoring is a successfully and valuable stage of any one person’s career or life.  Without mentorship, a career could and most often does, become stagnant and confused.  On the same token, mentoring and being mentored brings with it praise in what you are doing.  Everyone needs praise in their accomplishments.  Even if they hide this overjoyed feeling of accomplishing a task, a true mentor will see the accomplishment and not only build upon it, but praise the success.  As it is, praising someone that is being mentored is as important as the mentoring itself and passing of experience to another.

When do we stop?

As people grow and careers age, being mentored may fade.  This obstacle, yes, this is an obstacle and we’ll discuss why, is a very hard one to get past.  As we get older and more experiences build ourselves into who we are we tend to lose interest and the feeling there is a need to be mentored.  After all, we’re the mentors now, right?

This is a misconception and feeling we’ll all run into at some point.  Even mentors need mentoring.  This doesn’t have to be restricted to something like a community.  It expands into life in general and beyond our careers into retirement and enjoying what we’ve gained.  Ah, do we need to be mentored in how to enjoy?  At times, yes, we do.  That itself, is the obstacle mentioned earlier and one that we should all challenge ourselves at the point in time that we feel we do not need mentoring in life.

Why did I write this?

Over the years, I’ve met and had a few mentors and have also been a mentor for others.  Those individuals that have helped me succeed and been mentors to this day mentor me through everything I do.  Sometimes they don’t realize when they are actually being the mentor figure but they truly are.  I owe as much of my career to them as I do to the endless energy that I’ve put into making it what it is.

At the same time, being a mentor has proven a mentoring session to me as much as anything.  Again, I’ve been fortunate to have been able to share and help, as a mentor, many people.  Each of them have grown into the friendships that I feel a true mentorship relationship encompasses.  Without their knowledge, need to gain more knowledge and simple knowledge of the relationship, my own abilities would be less as well as my ability to achieve each day, more out of this life.

If you are not mentoring or have ever found having a mentor useful, I’ll ask you to go out, and give it a try.  The rewards are endless and the bonds and friendships, priceless.