This year, I’m turning 25 (the same age as young Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars Episode I), and I’m also about to enter into my first Mentor-Mentee relationship (like Obi-Wan Kenobi had with Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars Episode I). Many of you will be in the same boat, albeit a much younger boat which probably still has all of its oars. Initiatives such as the Alumni as Mentors Programme are looking to start again in the next few months, and offer great opportunities for you to learn from Victoria University’s own Jedi Masters (or graduates). With this in mind, I’ve been trawling the internet to find out how to get the most out of your time spent as a Padawan. So, here’s what I found out about being a good growing Jedi, no matter what age you are…
Don’t put it all on your mentor
You want to learn from them, right? So don’t make it seem like you’re doing them a favour just by turning up to the meetings – they’re primarily for your benefit (although a good relationship will mean that your mentor learns by teaching you as well). Think about what you’d like to devote your meeting times to, and take their advice on board when they offer suggestions. On the other hand, don’t pester them. No matter how busy you are, they’re probably just as busy, if not even more. Find a balance that works for you, and don’t feel bad about giving them a nudge every now and again to remind them that you exist. Just keep it polite. Remember, no Padawan wants to turn their Master into a Sith.
Set reasonable goals for yourself, and talk to your mentor about how to achieve them
You can’t just show up on the first day with the expectation that your mentor will just wave their hands and you’ll suddenly know all about the ways of the Force. Take the time to think about what you really want to get out of your time together. Have goals in mind before you meet up, rather than just saying “I want to be happier and also to blow up the Death Star”. It might help you to break them down a bit, eg “I want to manage my time better so I will have more time to spend doing things I enjoy, and be a better X-Wing pilot so that I can master Death Star destruction”. Your mentor might be able to help you break these down into smaller, measurable steps too, so you can both keep track of how well you are improving – maybe by starting out by blowing up TIE Fighters, then Star Destroyers before moving on to big things like the Death Star…
Don’t just do everything your mentor says without question
By all means, try everything they suggest, but make sure you have a good idea why they are suggesting it. If they tell you that it helps them to sing ‘Let it Go’ really loudly with a backing mariachi band at the start of every office presentation they had to give, then that’s what worked for them. But if you think it sounds silly, then it doesn’t hurt to let them know (politely! Remember, Sith make bad mentors!). Ask them why they think it would be a good idea for you, or how they think you would benefit from it. Your mentor is there to help you, so if something’s not helpful, they need to know just as badly as you want to tell them that you hate mariachi music and looking like a ninny.
Don’t be too sensitive
This is one of the hard ones. It’s difficult to remember that it’s your mentor’s job in the relationship to provide open, honest feedback to help you grow. It’s not fault-finding, or being picky, it’s for your benefit. If they pull you up on your lightsaber handling technique, it’s to stop you getting beheaded in the future by a dual-blade-wielding Sith.
So go forth, fellow Padawans, and may the Force be with us all.
Oh, and if you and your mentor get into a fight with a dual-blade-wielding Sith, then GO BE AWESOME!