Mentoring

“Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.”
–John Crosby

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been a number of weeks since I’ve updated my blog.  In recent weeks I’ve been enjoying the completion of my last assignment and pitching in a bit to help the new leader with the development of the Request for Proposals while I’m waiting to start my next assignment.  I’ve also taken advantage of the time to note the larger happenings in the human spaceflight arena revolving around the Augustine Committee, and have been processing and reflecting on some rather troubling observations.  With all that, I’m going to shift gears and share some recent experiences in another recent area for me – mentoring.

(Yes, my protégé reads my blog.  To honor confidentiality, I’ll speak today about my experiences from my perspective in broad terms without revealing any confidences.)

First of all, I’m extremely honored to have been selected as a mentor in the formal mentoring program now underway at the Johnson Space Center.  Mentoring is an activity I identified for myself upon completion of NASA’s leadership development program as a way for me to give back to NASA.  This is my first opportunity to honor that commitment.

At the outset, the formal program undertook a very careful screening process to match mentors with protégés.  A few weeks ago, we were notified of our matches.  My protégé is a young engineer in the area where I spent the bulk of my career at NASA.  Upon our first meeting, it’s clear to me that the matching committee did a bang-up job of pairing us.  Wrestling with key concepts and issues is very familiar, as I recall wrestling with many of the same at that stage of my career.  I sense that we share many common drives – core values – although this remains to be fully explored.

Beyond the initial meeting, we’ve achieved some quick victories so far.  My perspective on mentoring is to share “this is how I did it” when faced with similar situations (see “The Leadership Web”).  I’ve shared a number of experiences, both positive and “if I had it to do all over again, I’d…”  I can see the enthusiasm to explore and try some of my suggestions.  Often, the time passes so quickly in our conversations that at one moment, we start, and before I realized it, two hours have passed!

I’m glad I volunteered to be a mentor and am excited at developing the mentoring partnership.  What has been your experience with mentoring?  I welcome your comments and feedback.