Life is about learning. When you stop learning, you’re on the downward path.
But we have this outdated notion of learning: That you spend the first 18-25 years of your life getting educated, and then the rest of your life you merely USE what you learned. Fortunately, most people now recognize that this is entirely unrealistic. And may lead you to some bad decisions.
So if you’re going to be a lifelong learner, does that mean that you’re constantly going back to school? Possibly. But it’s more likely that you want to learn from people who are currently the masters of their craft, not from books and websites.
What you need is personal relationships with people who are actively doing what you’d like to be able to do. This is exactly what a mentoring relationship is: Someone agrees to teach you what they know, and to help you apply it in your own situation. This is why you want a mentor.
It might be technical (“hard”) skills, or people (“soft”) skills, or some combination. By having someone who works with you individually, you’ll have a much better chance of applying what you’ve learned on the job and in your life.
My view is that you should always be open to all kinds of mentoring relationships during your life, as your interests and needs change. This interaction might be as short as a meeting or two, or extend for years. To make it most effective, you need to make sure you have specific learning goals in mind, that your mentor knows that he or she is performing this valuable service for you, and that this help is deeply appreciated.
And, of course, you should always be looking to pass this on to others in your life. Who could benefit from the knowledge that’s in your head and the skills you’ve developed? Pass them on!
by Carl Dierschow