A question I’m asked often is “how do I pay back my mentor?” (If you’ve read other entries, you know I’m a big fan of mentoring.) Well, mentors have various reasons for doing their work, so not one solution fits all. But, I can tell you one thing that they’ll appreciate no matter what.
Share your progress based on their advice.
It’s that simple. Part of the relationship with your mentor is getting advice and direction. When that happens, believe it or not, they’re actually quite invested in that success. They’ve given thought to it, considered your unique gifts and struggles, and given you advice based on their experience. They want you to succeed - but even more, they want to know what happened! Tell them!
I’ve heard that people think that their mentors don’t want to be bothered - they’re too busy, they’re too important, they can’t be bothered. If that’s absolutely true, then that person is not your mentor and you need to move on. But, most likely that’s not true. They just are being respectful of your space and privacy. Their job is to advise you, not dig into areas you’re not sharing. It’s up to you to open those things up to them.
And, believe it or not, sometimes your mentor won’t know the right answer - they just know a collection of wrong answers. So they might advise you away from the wrong answers - that they KNOW are wrong - but they don’t know if what they suggested is right. They will want to know the outcome so they can better advise you in the future as well.
From a human level, just put yourself in the same situation, too. When you tell someone to do something, they disappear to do it, don’t you find yourself wondering a little bit about what happened? How was it? Did it work? Just because your mentor has a different relationship with you doesn’t mean that they’re not a human as well and have these same questions.
So, to summarize: keep your mentor informed of your progress, especially if you’ve made decisions based on their suggestions, direction or feedback. While you might not ever know how to pay them back, this will certainly be something they appreciate.