Are you mentorable?

I appreciated this recent piece, “Are you mentorable?” from the group who produces the TED Talks (appropriately, the article also includes a TED Talk video of the same name). I’ve often heard students or working professionals lament the lack of a mentor in their lives, as if they’re passive observers just waiting for the opportunity to present itself. It’s true that a degree of circumstance and luck exist at the start of any mentor/mentee relationship. But it’s also important to consider what you are doing to earn the interest and time of a mentor who can help you achieve your goals.

From the basic value of expressing your appreciation for the mentor’s time, to understanding what type of guidance you’re seeking, to remaining open to new ideas and even constructive criticism, the article is a good reminder of just how much agency you have and must commit to retaining if you want to draw and benefit from a mentor’s interest.

High school is an excellent training ground for college and for life. Students, what are you doing to earn the attention and interest of your teachers, counselor, coach, boss, etc.? If someone is already guiding and encouraging you, what efforts are you making not just to extract maximum value from that resource, but also to give back in the form of openness and appreciation?

These are skills that can be learned. And the sooner you start developing them, the more effectively you’ll be able to wield them when you get to college. Your future college will likely have no shortage of faculty and staff who could eventually serve as resources, references, and yes, mentors. But the path towards finding the right match starts with making yourself mentorable.