I just came back from Cracow (Kraków) where I participated in a great startup event called "Startup Weekend Kraków
). It was an amazing and humbling experience. I learned and taught. I was mentoring and was mentored. My head almost blew up. I loved it. Here's why it was such an important experience to me:
Being smart and knowing stuff
First of all, I think I know some stuff. I've been studying productivity for a long time now and I've been running Nozbe
for close to 5 years now... and I've had my share of successes and failures along the way. Chances are, you are the same. You know stuff. It's good. It's great. But you hardly ever know enough.
That's why I sometimes go to events like this - to give back to young wannapreneurs ("wannabe entrepreneurs") by engaging with them to help them succeed. It's a great experience and it's hugely important to my personal growth as a leader. That's why I decided to be a mentor in this event.
The more I know... the less I know...
That's the kicker - I know some stuff, but there is so much more I don't know. So much I haven't tried. There are simply so many mistakes I haven't made yet. That was the second reasoning for my going to this event - when I saw a line-up of mentors I knew I had to come - there were so many people smarter than me on the list I knew I had to give it a try and connect to at least some of them. The good things about our industry is that most of these guys are truly open and love to share. That's why there's no excuse not to try it.
When you mentor...
... you talk to young, energetic people and by connecting with them you get their freshness and spirit and give them what you consider "words of your wisdom" in return. You appreciate their ideas, try to get some sense into them and train your thoughts to re-evaluate the status quo. You give back what you've learned on one hand, and re-think your own ideas on the other. It's a fantastic and humbling experience.
When you are being mentored...
... you talk to guys who have been before to where you are now. They get your situation and share how they solved it in their case, they admit their mistakes and guide you to help you omit those. They are truly concerned about what you want to do and relate to it and want you to succeed.
It's important to constantly mentor and be mentored
This gives me both perspectives and helps me grow. Seriously, there's still so much stuff I don't know. In both cases I train my line of thought and learn new things. I don't say to the guys I mentor to "follow my advice blindly" and I'm not expected to do the same when I'm being mentored. The only real benefit is to challenge my thinking and to get me to think again. And then again. And then some more.
To grow and to help others grow.