The best way to get 3 steps ahead of yourself

                In a world that moves so quickly and where resources need to be better cherished, inventing the wheel as a professional development model seems wasteful.  Finding a mentor that is a good fit, with both personality and expertise, is no easy task.  The best way to get three steps ahead of yourself is to look for someone who is barely three steps ahead of where you are now.  Why barely three steps?  The answer is simple. Their memory of how they got to where they are now will be fresh in their minds, thus, in many cases, they can make a good teacher.  A good example of this model in practice is the Canadian Cadets.  It is my understanding, from the research that I conducted; including in-person conversations, that once a Cadet has progressed to the next level, it is their responsibility to mentor members from the level that they just graduated from. 

I have lived and volunteered in Prince George almost all of my life. I love our community and believe that it is the people that make it such a great place to live.

SODOTO (See One, Do One, and Teach One) is a way of teaching and learning “through direct observation of a task, hands-on practical experience performing the task and teaching the task to another person. Learning is developed through experience, real-world variables and testing by mentors” (DeGraff, 2013).  As an instructor, I believe in the value of this model so much so that I have adapted it for myself and my students. I added the action “reflect on” to the acronym. For me the acronym reads: SODOROTO- see one, do one, reflect on, and teach one.  Adding “reflects on” encourages me to regularly practise the art of self-evaluation.  According to many well-known contemporary leaders, reflection is an important quality to possess (Goldberg, 2001; Goldsmith, 2007).

                The hardest thing about this professional development strategy might not even be finding a mentor.  The hardest part might be identifying what it is you want to develop within yourself to reduce your limits to personal and professional growth (Senge, 1990).  A good mentor can help you see goal-specific targets more clearly because of many challenges that they faced getting to where there are now.  One thing that you may want to ask yourself when considering your professional goal is the real reason why you seek this goal.  If the goal is a means to an end, you might be looking at things the wrong way.  It might make more sense to identify all of the skills that you want to learn t reach your goal.  This can help make the journey more enjoyable and meaningful for you and your mentor.  Focusing too far into the future all the time can cause us to forget to smell the flowers and also to not extract the full value of a learning path.

                If you are like me, and your daily intention is to strive to be a better person, you may find value in seeking out a mentor as a more humanitarian way to reduce your limits to personal and professional growth.

Laurie Dillman, Leader, Poet, & People Gardener


Degraff, J. ( December 2, 2013). Master the art of SODOTO: See One, Do One, Teach One

“See One, Do One, Teach One” or as the sensei might say “SODOTO.” Psychology Today.

Goldberg, R.A. (2001)  Implementing a professional development system through appreciative inquiry.  Leadership and Organization Development Journal, 22(2), 56–61.

Goldsmith, M. (2007). What got you here won’t get you there. Hyperion.

Senge, P.  (1990). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of a learning organization.  New York, NY: Doubleday/Currency.