When I think of mentoring my mind immediately races to the Chinese proverb “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Truly an effective mentor teaches you to be a fisher – a fisher for higher standards, higher commitment and a higher being. Mentors much like the legends on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, leave indelible impressions by way of their impact and influence and arm you with confidence and ambition to dream.
My university days, like with most teenagers, were checkered with its fair share of highs and lows. Dilemmas there were plenty; possibilities immense; spirit agog, energies abound – but to tame this in the right direction would take nothing short of a miracle…. What it did in fact take was discipline; conscious decision-making, relentless effort and a generous sprinkle of ‘A MENTOR’!
The mentor template helped me progressively seek other mentors in turn in various areas of my professional and personal interests (Toastmasters International). Their guidance, knowledge and support was a force that helped me achieve and deliver.
In today’s competitive & pressure ridden work environment it very easy for one to operate only in the present. We lose connectedness to the other 2 moments of time; namely past and future. The interaction makes it TENSE (no pun intended) and challenging. A mentor helps you draw from past experiences while helping you navigate through the unchartered waters of the future. He is the catalyst that helps you get to where you want to be – a conduit between the present and the future.
While mentoring means many things, here is what it is NOT meant to be:
- One way street to learning: Undeniably, there are mutual benefits for a mentor and the protégé. Remember a mentor may not have the answers but he certainly creates room for options. He too is picking up significant skills along the way (reverse mentoring). Therefore participation & involvement is not only recommended, but also encouraged for both parties.
- A confessional: Here is not the time nor the place to lament. In fact it is a playground to learn and grow. Use the opportunity to blossom your skills sets and expand your vistas.
- A Guarantee to Success: Your mentor is a friend, philosopher and guide; not your guaranteed passport to success nor your rite to passage. You have to take charge and ownership of your own success.
- A cloak and dagger exercise: It is not an arcane process; the success stories of mentoring programs must be shared to inspire and motivate others to participate, to create a mentoring culture. After all, isn’t this what they call PAY IT FORWARD.
So here’s to all the mentors out there and the mentors within each one of us. You have the power to make THE difference. Happy mentoring!
Diana Dsouza-Saldanha is a passionate, tenacious HR leader. Her HR travels span over fourteen + years across the retail, energy, promotional, oil & gas, banking and educational industry. Diana is defined by the 3 strands that make up her DNA – her family, her never-say die attitude and her quest for learning.
She also engages herself with public speaking, volunteering in her community and ‘staying the course’ with travelling.