The Mentorship Advantage

Frank was six years old when his parents discovered that he has an innate talent and passion for lawn tennis. He would always go to the neighbourhood lawn tennis court and play till it gets dark. He even became so proficient at the game that he became the school champion and represented his primary four classes in the local lawn tennis championship competition. He excelled in the contest and was crowned the overall best player.

At the age of 17, though still passionate about the game of lawn tennis, Frank has lost his innate skills. Meanwhile his closest friend, Mark, progressed brilliantly in the game and became a professional representing the state, then the country, in the just concluded Olympics event.

The major factor that made a big difference between Frank and his good friend Mark wasn’t talent, passion or dexterity in the game, Frank has more of these. The major difference was the presence of a mentor. Mark has a coach but Frank does not.

Mentoring has been recognised as one of the most important factors that distinguish between levels of success. It further helps in strengthening the abilities that are crucial to understanding why one person succeeds in life or business while another, of equal finance, education and exposure, fails.

In sports, as well as in business, the importance of a mentor cannot be overemphasised. Behind every successful individual out there, there is a mentor giving him quality direction and guidance. A person can never go far in any endeavour in life without the right coach cheering him to move on. Evidences of this fact are littered in the present day and all through the history books. In Homer’s Iliad, despite the strength and godlike powers of Hercules, he could not regain his place of glory with Zeus on mount Olympus alone; he needed the mentoring of Philoctetes to be a proven hero before his godhood was restored. Achilles needed someone to help him harness his strength and brutality into good use, so he sought the wise counsel of king Odysseus.

Tiger Woods became a renowned star in the world of golf because his father identified his talent and passion as a golfer at the tender age of four and helped him nurtured, honed and perfected his talent so that he could flourish.

Mentors bring out the best in you, they help you identify your strengths and weaknesses and they see the world differently. They have a better understanding of the odds because they have been there before you.  They are not afraid to tell you the truth even when you are failing because their major aim is to see you prosper and be the best you can be.

Good mentors enrich your experience and bolster your confidence. They harness your skills and they make you feel adequately empowered. They give you the strength to move further and faster ahead of your peers.

To make the best out of a mentorship relationship, a person has to be very receptive. You have to welcome the chance and see it as an opportunity to learn, unlearn and relearn. You have to make an ego free admission that you need a professional and outside help, you must also be willing to make drastic changes where necessary. It doesn’t matter if you are older or richer than your mentor, what matters is that he/she is more capable and more experienced in that particular area.

In today’s world that prizes intellectual properties and the swift transfers of knowledge and skills, Mentorship has proven to be an increasingly valued practice. Mentorship relationships take many forms. There are technical mentors who work on skill development, and career advisers who provide guidance about your (prospective) company for less experience colleagues and would be employees. There are also formal and informal mentoring programmes. There are also peer mentors.

One has to choose which he wants because in the long run you will be a product whether or not you choose a mentor. But you will never be a good product compared to a person with a mentor.

Richard Chilee

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