What I Wish I Had Known About College: Mentoring (3 of 3)
This post is a continuation of the Mentoring discussion begun HERE. Gain a perspective on production as the outcome of higher education. Identify the true opportunity.
Committing to Produce
By this point in the story, you may have a sense of the approach to learning and personal responsibility for learning that is encapsulated in a mentoring relationship. You know that it is not just a change in babysitter, but an initiation into autonomous adulthood. It is a commitment to learn, engage, and produce. As is my pattern, I will express these fully with the knowledge that telling you is not as impactful as showing you.
Learn. Perhaps the greatest impediment to student ownership of learning is the common misunderstanding that college is about getting a good or better job. I will admit that the average person with a college degree will be able to secure a higher wage than an average person with no college degree. But, that oversimplifies college as an opportunity. With my admission, you must acknowledge that extraordinary students entered college and exited as billionaires who worked for themselves. My assertion to you, my explanation of what it means to learn, is to suggest that the difference between the average and the extraordinary student is their vision of what they want out of school.
Extraordinary students are looking to discover their opportunity while in school to move beyond employment, career, even vocation to passion, purpose, and the ideal. College is your opportunity to put some work into your vision while surrounded by infrastructure, expertise, and the expectation of innovation.
Engage. The engagement that I am talking about here requires internal motivation. That vision that inspires your approach to learning must also suggest that you move consistently, whatever the pace, toward your goals. Do not expect a mentor to motivate your or present you with a vision. Some may be able to provide this short term, but it is a temptation for you to lose your own sense of urgency and intrinsic motivation.
The best mentors provide inspiration and insight that supports clarity in your vision. The best mentees bring time spent, research, and prototypes to mentors for discussion, dissection, and brainstorming. You may find that you are initiating the conversations more than in your “friend” relationships. You may find that you are not a priority to the mentor. But, your take away is the value of the interaction when it does occur.
Produce. The proof is in the product, but that’s only proof. The next question is one of sustainability. Sustaining production is a function of packaging, monetizing, and distribution. Your innovation will naturally lend itself to something that you can share tangibly with others. Packaging is your ability to create a convenient and accessible format to offer your innovation. Monetizing is the fee structure that suggests costs to your potential market. The fee structure must be accessible to those you wish to sell to. It is also wise to build in a mechanism for repeat buyers if that fits your business model. Distribution is your plan for getting your innovation into the hands of your customers. Distribution can often be handled by more established companies leaving you time to produce while they deal with the fulfillment. Your commitment to continual production sustains the investment-production cycle of the mentor-supported relationship. It also sets the basis for growth and expansion of your goals, relationships, and learning.