PERSPECTIVES: MENTOR

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PERSPECTIVES: MENTOR

 

“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.”

… Oprah Winfrey

Mentoring has been around for thousands of years in one form or another and filled an important role in ancient Greek, Roman, Chinese, Indian and African civilizations amongst other. In ancient Africa, for instance, everyone in a village had the responsibility to teach children, but one non-family member was entrusted a special role to individually mentor a child.

Mentoring keeps you involved and provides you with a feeling of usefulness, accomplishment and a legacy – at times also broadening your support circle.

It facilitates growth and development – professionally, personally and oftentimes spiritually – in another person by the sharing of experience, insights, skills, techniques, ideas and wisdom that have been gained through years of living and learning, and to see certain desirable aspects of the mentor’s life assimilated and reproduced in the mentee’s life faster than if it had to be grown and nurtured personally.

It is an important part of how the world moves forward – standing on the shoulders of those who came before them.

 

Physical

In Greek mythology when Odysseus left Greece to fight the Trojans he put his household and son Telemachus in the care of his trusted family friend Mentor. The name has been adopted into English to mean both a person who imparts and shares wisdom and knowledge with a less experienced person, and as the verb “mentor”.

In more modern times, progressive businesses have created a mentoring system in the workplace where mentors support mentees in their day-to-day development. Mentors pass on special skills and knowledge in a specific area and are teachers, counselors, motivators, coaches, advisors and connectors lending a friendly ear, providing encouragement, critical feedback, and at times leadership – the end result being that both mentors and mentees benefit, since mentors are in turn themselves often also re-energized in the process.

 

Social

Mentoring and volunteering will broaden your support circle whilst providing you with an expanded feeling of usefulness and “extended family”. Humans are social beings and a journey made together is a journey made lighter and more worthwhile for both mentor and mentee.

Economic and social factors have affected mentoring over time. Workforce demographics have changed dramatically with seniors often vacating important if not critical positions through retirement – forced or voluntarily. Automation also affects jobs at an increased pace across the board, thus challenging personal growth opportunities for all – especially in view of flatter organizational structures. The result: retaining senior qualified workers becomes much more challenging.

Mentoring thus becomes increasingly important for certain businesses in terms of their knowledge retention and the professional development of their more junior staff.

 

Mental

Mentoring helps build mental capital in the form of positive attitudes and certain key skills which allow the mentee to develop a sense of achievement and with it self-esteem, confidence, autonomy and inner peace – closely related to the four psychological attitudinal cornerstones of hope, optimism, an ability to reach one’s goals and resilience.

It is further related to the concept of immaterial economical capital – what in German is referred to as “Geistiges Kapital” – in terms of individual, social and collective capabilities, and thus an individual’s ability to live a life of personal satisfaction and self-worth whilst contributing effectively to society.

 

Emotional

We are not gods, and emotions often get in the way and lead us to stumble in our relationships, our goals and aspirations. One of the values of mentors is that they can play an indispensable role in helping mentees recognize and regulate their emotions – which more often than not leads to higher achievement, improved social relationships, and heightened self-worth.

Intellectual

Businesses will benefit more from deploying retired seniors as mentors, advisors and facilitators where their key performance indicators are not measured against the financial “bottom-line” but rather how they can help others to develop themselves.

As in my case, one can only wish to be blessed with two teachers and again two managers (one younger than I am – yes it does happen) who became life-changing mentors.

 

Spiritual

As for spiritual mentoring, it also exists in the form of an intentional relationship which is focused specifically on spirituality – a process of companionship and accompaniment that helps the mentee with inner guidance to live a harmonious life towards spiritual wholeness.

 

Key Principles

  • Mentors and mentees both benefit from mentoring.
  • As social beings, our lives are lighter when shared – expanding our feeling of usefulness.
  • Mentoring helps build mental capital.
  • Mentors play an indispensable role in helping mentees recognize and regulate their emotions.
  • Businesses benefit more when deploying seniors as mentors, advisors and facilitators where their KPI’s are not measured against the financial “bottom-line”.
  • Spiritual mentoring helps mentees to connect with their inner guidance to live a harmonious life.

Action Steps

  • Create a mentoring system in the workplace where mentors support mentees in day-to-day growth.
  • Retain retiring seniors as mentors.
  • Find mentors to build mental capital in the form of positive attitudes and key skills.
  • Deploy mentors where they can help mentees recognize and regulate their emotions.
  • Deploy retiring seniors as mentors where KPI’s are not measured against the financial bottom-line.
  • Find a spiritual mentor – if you are so inclined – for inner guidance to live a life towards spiritual wholeness.

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