Which makes the more experienced person a MENTOR ….!
Why ‘Mentor’ Though?
The word MENTOR comes from Homer’s Odyssey . Odysseus, king of Ithaca, goes to fight in the Trojan War and while he is away he leaves the care of his household, especially his son Telemachus to Mentor, who already serves as a teacher and overseer. After the war, Odysseus is condemned to wander for ten years as he tries to return to his home.
Telemachus grows up and goes off in search of his father and he is accompanied by the Goddes of War, Athena, who assumes the guise of Mentor Eventually Odysseus and Telemachus are reunited and are able to remove the threat to his Kingdom.
Over time, the name Mentor has evolved into the concept of a wise and trusted advisor/teacher that we have today.
Can anyone be a mentor?
Yes, and sometimes they don’t even know that is what they are doing.
The key is in that description at the beginning where a more experienced person is helping a less experienced person.
Mentors can have many roles
But they aren’t necessarily used on the same day or even in the same mentoring relationship.
Usually, the roles adopted on any given day or within a particular encounter are dependent upon the needs of the mentee, as well as the mentors own preferred style or working and skill set.
The Mentor as Teacher
This is one of the most common roles for a mentor to have and is characterised by answering questions and training in specific skills. This is the role that many will often find in the workplace, and especially when they are partnered in a ‘buddy system’ to learn a new role.
The Mentor as Counsellor
The role of the Mentor Counsellor is to help the person they are working with to make sense of the world around them in their own terms.
A good counsellor is able to identify the points at which decisions they made in the past affected their current or future and then share this knowledge with their mentee.
The Mentor as Coach
The role of the Mentor Coach lies somewhere between that of Teacher and Counsellor and is characterised by the Mentor probably being an expert in the field that their protégé would like to develop. A good example would be the budding writer seeking coaching from someone who has had several books already published.
The Mentor as Role Model
This is the role that should be treated with caution because this is the role that is most likely to result in dependency on the part of the Mentee. However, when handled well, the Mentor Role Model can ensure that their protégés emulate only the very best characteristics for positive change.
The Mentor as Advisor
As an advisor it is tempting to issue instruction, in the same way one might when teaching. However, advice in this sense is not always advisable and the advice given should strive towards enabling the receiver to move toward greater initiative, independence, and self-reliance. Therefore you might suggest they open a bank account, but you wouldn’t tell them where, or what type.
The Mentor as Guide
To be a Guide is, I believe, one of the most fulfilling roles a Mentor can have. This is the role in which your expertise, knowledge and wisdom can all come forward to do their work. Guiding someone’s journey and development is a rare privilege and not one to be taken lightly. You will be guiding them to resources, people and decisions. As a result of your input they will become greater people.
The Mentor as Friend
Friendship is perhaps the single most important element that separates the mentor from every other role. You will almost certainly become friends, maybe even lifetime friends. This is because you share much on your journey together, both learning from each other along the way. Perhaps this is then the greatest benefit of all to becoming a mentor.
If you would like to become a participant in changing the world rather than just a bystander. Then perhaps you might like to join the Mowgli Foundation as we take on the task of alleviating poverty in developing economies.