Imagine you are on a vacation with your family. Because you were so busy, you couldn’t do much research about the place. You just packed, travelled to the city and now you are talking to hotel people, local market people to discover more about the place. That’s when an unknown cab driver meets you and become your tourist guide for the remaining part of the journey. This tourist guide picks you up from your hotel, takes you across the city and nearby locations as you seem to enjoy the journey with your family. The sheer little knowledge of place around, opening and closing time of popular destinations, charges and tickets for commonly visited tourist places and when the best time to avoid rush hour – adds up to your making your journey into a memorable and comfortable one. Life suddenly becomes all the simpler and you thank the person after completing the journey which turns out to be probably the most memorable trip of your life. This tourist guide may be the smallest part of your overall life; however, his contribution resulted into the best trips you have had ever.
Imagine, how our lives could blossom, just like this brief vacation, if we all could have a mentor or a coach in the journey of life. We all need mentors - whether you are a student or a working professional or a surgeon or a businessman or a housewife – a mentor can help everyone at different points in one’s journey. Great soprano, Renne Fleminghas described mentors as “Outside Ears”, people who would give an absolute third party perspective and insights of the situation that you would normally miss out on your own. Bhagwad Gitabeautifully articulates the mentor mentee relationship between Arjuna and Lord Krishna when Arjuna faced challenges in identifying his true purpose and offered to run away from the battlefield.
Further, having a coach or mentor is not necessarily about finding someone who could help you navigate an unknown path like a google map would do. For any mentorship to succeed, there has to bebaseline chemistry between a mentor and mentee, said Belle Rose Ragins a mentoring expert at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. It’s about shared perspective and contextwhich forms the basis of any great mentor mentee relationship.
I agree that the subject matter of human life is very complex and therefore one coach or mentor cannot probably do justice. However, finding a right mentor is the starting point of this journey and anyone can do it. Here is how you can identify a mentor / coach for your journey of life:
1) Mentors can be from any field– You may be a musician and a school principal can be a mentor for you. You may be a sports person and your mentor can be a choir singer. The more different the perspective your mentor brings, the more pragmatic and unorthodox solutions he can offer to your challenges or seemingly looking challenges.
2) Mentors can be of any age – If you are working in a senior leadership position and feel that a young college intern cannot guide you, probably you are mistaken. We all would agree that our kids are much smarter than us. Hence, age is just a numerical value and has no correlation with the value and expertise a younger person can offer.
3) Mentors are not celebrity gurus – Do not confuse mentors with celebrity gurus or coaches who may be too expensive to afford. Your next door retired uncle, your neighbourhood NGO, a book or a blogger or a twitter handle can be a mentor too. It depends on your individual requirement and your willingness to engage with the mentor.
4) You can have multiple mentors at different points in your lives –Often we get trapped that we can have only one mentor or coach in our lives. Just like the travel guide of Mount Abu cannot be an effective guide for Shimla, likewise, when one single guru and coach cannot be a single aide or mentor for all the challenges of life. At different points in your life, you may need a different coach or a mentor and it’s absolutely fine to find the most relevant person for the same.
5) Mentoring is not about religion –It’s important to understand that mentorship is not about any particular dharma, religion or creed. It is not about propagating religious discourses or promoting the superiority of one region or discourse over that of the other. The premise of mentor and mentee relationship is personal advancementwith the intent of transforming the potential of mentee to peak levels of performance and raising the bar.
6) There is nothing like and ideal mentor –Mentoring is the relationship between two people – a mentor and a mentee. Just like you are not an ideal human being, likewise it will be for mentors too. No one is ideal and having that as an expectation itself is unjust. Learn from experience, embrace the collective wisdom and accept the limitations for making the relationship to work.
For lot of us who are in constant search of finding a mentor, guide and a torch bearer in our lives, failure is a mentor too. It often gives us lessons without speaking a single word. You just need to understand the grammar and language of decode the real lessons it offers.