I've learned a lot about being a good mentee and the value of being a mentor over the last year and some change. I'm gluttonous when it comes to knowledge. I want to know the who, what, when, where, why, and how when it comes to pretty much everything. Especially coding. I am not satisfied with the automagical, nor the "it just works, so do it." WHY DOES IT WORK? HOW DOES IT WORK? TEACH ME ALL THE THINGS!!! And copy and paste is NOT coding, damnit! As a mentor, I WANT to hear those questions because I am going to answer them regardless. I want you to be engaged (remember that last post about empathy?); I want you to care about the company, the product, the client, the coworkers, but I really want you to care about you. And that means I want you to know all the things, too. I do not know all the things, to be clear, but I'm always pushing myself, my mentors, and my mentees to teach me what I don't know. I was really nervous about taking on the role of project lead and being a dedicated mentor. Not because I'm scared of failure. Coding has actually retrained my brain to KNOW that failure is a chance to learn all the things that lead up to it and then fix it. I get paid to break things, y'all! I'm scared of mediocrity though. I mean, this has legitimately been my existential crisis since the age of 16 or so, but I'm gaining confidence and I'm gaining ground. I can tell you, show you, teach you things and I know the who, what, when, where, why, and hows because I was not afraid to be annoying, to feel like a nuisance, to demand the answers. And if I don't know, I'm gonna find out, so we both know. I've learned a lot from my mentors, both what kinds of things I want to implement and what kinds of things I want to avoid. So, if you want my two cents (warning: you are going to get it), do not be afraid to ask questions and make patience your virtue, if only for a few hours of your day, so that the person who comes after you has fewer of them. On the flip side, bang your head, why else do you have that desk?! Bang it and bang it until you reach a point where the headdesking is outweighing the productivity. I'm literally a tiny human and it often makes people naturally protective of me, which in turn can lead to more hand-holding than is helpful, so I had to train myself the headdesk vs productivity balance. So, yes, ask all the questions, but also seek all the answers the hard way, and somewhere along the way, you'll start to learn that you really do "got this".
And now I can't stop thinking about manatees:
Image courtesy of Carol Grant - Getty Image via Time