DIY Mentorships

Last month I blogged that I’m accepting applications for a mentor. (Applications are still open, by the way…) Well, this week one of my mentors/role models/heroes, Sarah Glassmeyer, blogged about Libpunk Mentorship. It’s great advice to any wayward librarian (or professional whatever) looking for direction. Her five main points are:

  1. Own Your Shit
  2. It’s OK to Say “No”
  3. It’s OK to Cry
  4. Fake it Until You Make It
  5. Fuck ‘em if They Can’t Take a Joke

Why don’t they teach us this stuff in library school? Now, I really try to live by 1, 4, and 5. I don’t feel like I’m at a point in my career where I can really do 2, and well, I am too much of a poser to admit to 3. I’ve got a ways to go still…

Sarah touches on something that another metor/hero of mine, Mary Carmen Chimato, has stressed to me. We’re not alone. Sarah says it’s important to pass on compliments, talk your peers up. There’s room for praise and constructive criticism. This is something I really need to remember. Too often I get what I call “Little Red Hen Syndrome” – where I try to do it all myself and then get annoyed when people around me don’t work on my timetable/level. It’s a terrible habit and doesn’t really help anybody. It’s not that I’m too good for my peers or working on more important stuff than my colleagues. I just don’t effectively communicate what needs I perceive and I do a crappy job of listening to what their needs/goals are. We can all work together and progress and change, I just need to have some more empathy and understanding. I need to be a team player. How rockstar is that?

Well, it is and it isn’t. It’s sad, but I really needed people like Sarah and Mary to tell me to look at my role in what I’m doing and trying to accomplish. I value their opinions and trust their judgement, and it’s good to have an outside perspective. I also wish there was more talk about how to work with those around you, rather than finger wagging.

Wanted: Mentor. Now accepting applications.

Last week, when I was deep in the TRB 2010 Annual Meeting, one of my transportation library colleagues ask me if I had a mentor who “couldn’t directly benefit from [my] actions” and didn’t “have any direct control” over my career. When he put it like that, my answer had to be no. I have people I look up to, but nothing formal like “There’s that person, they’re my mentor.” I also thought it was interesting how my colleague qualified it with control and other motives. I never really considered it before, but a mentor really should have your interests at heart and do it for the information exchange and a warm fuzzy feeling, not to exploit the mentee.

I’m at that point in my career where I would like a mentor. Not one tied to the campus or my place of work, but one that can help me articulate my big picture plans and ideas. Any suggestions? I’m taking applications. I’ll probably ask about this at SLA Leadership next week.