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Kill the mentor

Updated: Jul 17, 2019

In an effort to progress and succeed, we humans constantly seek to acquire information and knowledge .

There is however a great gap between theory and reality and then there are nagging doubts about what could be relevant and how best to apply that knowledge.

Experience is a great but slow and expensive teacher. Probably its greatest drawback is it rarely helps the experiencer. However if the experience is well articulated and shared, it can help others to achieve success and avoid pitfalls.

Smart people and organisations learn from the experiences of others. While reading, listening studying others is very helpful, nothing is more impactful than having a good mentor.

A mentor is someone who is experienced and can transmit useful learning, guidance and inspiration to the protégé. A protégé being an individual or group that gets mentored. The mentor brings inspiration and the relevant wisdom from the past to bear fruition for the protégé who represents the future.

Its but logical to seek successful people as mentors, However a mentor who has also experienced setbacks is usually more impactful than one who has only tasted success. Success tends to inflate the ego of individuals, organisations and societies but failure compels introspection, learning and awakening.

Being usually older, more experienced and confident the mentor can without even trying, overwhelm the protégé. Therefore the mentor has to take care to adopt the following approach towards the protégé.

* Like a father but without the patronising nor dominating.

* A gentle and constant nudging like a mother but without the nagging.

* Like the manner and honest opinion of a spouse but without the jarring bluntness.

* Build the confidence of a friendship but without the familiarity.

Having often been mentored and in turn I have mentored many. Mentoring is always challenging, but it can also be both a satisfying and rewarding experience.

The greatest challenge in mentoring is avoiding what I call 'dependancy pitfall', where the protégé becomes excessively dependant on the mentor, almost like a crutch. This cannot be good for the growth and development of the protégé.

A mentor is like a booster rocket carrying a spacecraft. Which must be jettisoned after achieving its limited objective.

Better still is to consider the mentor as a pregnant mother, that has to relieve her charge at the right time. Failure to do so can be toxic for the mentor, protege and certainly the relationship.

The mentor's task is to advise, guide and inspire the protégé, and at the right time the mentor must be figuratively speaking be killed.

The mentor-protégé relationship may end, but it carries the seed for blossoms of something more friendly and familial. I have pleasantly discovered another secret of life. If the mentoring is done right one day the protégé returns as an 'Avatar' to guide the mentor.


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