Rich Bowen, has worked on the Apache http server for almost 20 years now and serves as a board member and the Executive Vice President. He says that direct, intentional mentoring is 100% of the reason that I am where I am today, professionally and personally. How can you be a mentor or find a mentor to improve your career and life?
Provide yourself an exit strategy
Some day, you’re not going to want to do it any more. You’re going to want to move on from this project and try something else.
I was told recently by a very wise colleague that the first thing that you should do, on assuming an important job, is to identify the person that’s going to replace you. Some day, you’re going to move on from that position, and much of what you’ve invested into the position will be lost unless you are actively taking steps to ensure that your impact outlives your own involvement.
Some folks, of course, strive to make themselves irreplaceable. They do this by hiding information, by ensuring that everything depends on them, and by actively scaring off anybody that might take over. Some people do this intentionally, while others do it instinctively, out of desire to protect their position. But by actively looking for your replacement, you create a culture of openness in which people won’t be trying to oust you, so the other goal is accomplished, too. (Publicly documenting everything you do is another huge part of that, and an article for another day.)
By mentoring your replacement, you remove so much of the stress of carrying the entire operation yourself. You can begin to delegate things. You can spend more time thinking about the future, and less time fixing things that are broken that only you can fix.
And when the time comes to depart, you can rest assured that you’re leaving things in hands that will continue your vision.
Leave a legacy that actually matters
Open source is code. Code gets refactored, forked, and deleted. When you leave that project, your impact will dwindle as your contributions are gradually patched away.
The time that you spend mentoring people will endure. It will stretch into other projects, other industries, and other decades. Every moment that you invest in another person will extend your impact a little further past your own direct influence.