Why we should have mentors

By Victor Ochieng’

In the book Managers as Mentors, Chip R. Bell uses the acronym SAGE to summarise mentorship.

 ‘S’ stands for surrendering. This entails the leveling of learning and the kindling kinship as the mentor establishes rapport with mentee.

‘A’ connotes acceptance. This is the creation of a safe haven for risk-taking. The process of moving from novice to mastery is clear like crystal: the protégé must embrace the risk of making and mending mistakes. Taking such a risk, particularly in the presence of another person, requires some ounce of courage.

‘G’ means gifting. In most cases, mentors offer the gift of advice and more to their mentees. The mentor’s greatest gift addresses the power of passion, spirit and enthusiasm in the mentorship relationship.

‘E’ stands for extending. This focuses on nurturing a self-directed learner to ensure the transfer of learning.

It also focuses on managing the sweet sorrow that follows life after mentoring. For almost every mentoring relationship eventually comes to an end.

But, what exactly is mentorship?

In Hebrew, ‘Rabbi’ is a great teacher. In Sanskrit, a ‘guru’ is one with great knowledge and wisdom. ‘Gu’ means darkness and ‘ru’ means light. Therefore, a ‘guru’ takes someone from darkness to light.

In Tibet, a ‘lama’ is one with spirituality and authority to teach. In Tibetan Buddhism, the ‘Delai Lama’ is the highest-ranking teacher.

In Italy, a ‘maestro’ is a master teacher of music. It is the short form of ‘maestro de capella’ meaning the master of the chapel. In France, a ‘tutor’ is a private teacher.

In England, a ‘guide’ is someone who knows and shows the way.  In Greece, a ‘mentor’ is a wise and trusted advisor who is a protective and supportive counselor.

A mentor leads by showing a true example. A mentor does not tell you what to do, but shows you how to do it. In life, you are either a mentor or tormentor, just like you can either be a warning or an example. You have the latitude to choose who you want to be.

In the book titled Unstoppable: Achieving Excellence and Beyond, Rosemary Kibui and Timothy Kipchumba contend that a mentor is a trusted person who is more experienced in life and  can inspire one to achieve their dreams in life.

Having a mentor in life is good because he/she determines your mentality. What you fail to learn through mentorship, you will learn through experimentation. 

Apostle Paul of Tarsus mentored Timothy. Once you are mentored, you should also mentor others. In 2 Timothy 2:2 (KJV), Paul pens these wise words with confident conviction, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”

Socrates mentored Aristotle. Aristotle mentored Plato who in turn mentored Alexander the Great.

In business, Steve Jobs mentored Mark Zuckerberg. No wonder, Laurent D. Daloz succinctly said, “Mentors are guides; they lead us along a journey of our lives, we trust them because they have been there before us.”

Characteristics of Mentors:

Mentors are people who fear God. They possess positive qualities and attributes that you admire. They are outstanding leaders in their fields of specialisation. Mentors are always available when you need their counsel. You can easily meet, greet them and drink from their deep wells of wit and wisdom. They are people who always keep learning. They love and cherish knowledge. Mentors are people who can listen aptly and offer help. They are people who highly inspire and motivate you.

Confucius, the great Chinese philosopher put it aptly, “When you see a man of worth, think of how you may emulate him.”

You don’t attain mastery in a particular field just in a jiffy. You must accept to be an apprentice, journeyman, then a master. Apprentice means a learner. It is derived from the French word ‘appendre’ which means to learn.

In conclusion, in the distant past, an apprentice was a name given to someone who would select a trade, then find a master in his village to teach him the skills needed in his chosen vocation. After learning all he could from the local master, the apprentice would then travel to broaden the scale and scope of knowledge. Why? Because life is a journey, not a destination. If you want to know the road, ask those who are coming back.

The writer rolls out talks and training services

vochieng.90@gmail.com. 0704420232

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