When Should We Mentor?

Each step in the journey to become who (or what) we want to be yields important lessons.  At any point on our way up the staircase, we can turn around and cheer for those behind us, offer them a hand up, or warn them about the crack on the left-hand side of the fifth step.  And we should, because most of us didn't get where we are by charging blindfolded through the pitfalls without encouragement, advice, or assistance.

But being a mentor is more than offering the occasional help.  A mentor is a constant presence, a reassuring guide and cheerleader, keeping watch.  It takes dedication and a willingness to give a considerable amount of time and energy to someone else's career.

So... do we mentor when we have time?  There's almost never enough.  Do we become a mentor once we get to a certain point in our careers?  When?  Are there requirements and, if so, are they easy to define?
What do you think?

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