India: Mentoring And The Art Of It

Life doesn't come with manuals, we have mentors instead!
Last Updated: 3 July 2019
Article by Mohan Dewan

Suggestive as the title is, we ponder over the mentors that have guided us. We like to ponder over it, because it fills us with gratitude and humility to think of people, who were there with us at various milestones in life- to guide, to help, to support and if not that, just be there and say "It's all going to be fine" or "this too shall pass".

As a child, it is the mother that nurtures the infant through its nascent stage. It is she who satisfies the basic needs of the child by nourishing it and taking care of all its daily requirements. It is said that the human mind is most receptive at the age of 6 years. The child grasps a lot of mannerisms from its parents. It becomes most crucial that parents walk the talk around their young child, because unknowingly they are mentoring the child through their speech and conduct.

It is only in the pre-teens that the mind and our thoughts start taking shape. In this age, the parents are only required to ensure that the values they have instilled with the child are maintained as the child explores the world around it. Young teenagers are always attracted towards glamour of an external world. They are thrilled by unknown elements that they are exposed to once they start interacting. At this age, teens look up to peers and friends for guidance for their day to day issues as well as life-shaping decisions in terms of careers or relationships.

In adulthood, what remains is to make the most out of life as it concretises as all the major decisions are taken. One is now to account for these decisions. Life is now lived not only for shaping the future, but also for accounting for the decisions one has taken so far. Now, one yearns to share one's imagination, ideas, thoughts, and perspectives. Mentoring at this stage is mostly about being there for the person rather than guiding him/ her. It is while sharing one's apprehensions or anticipations about problems that one comes across immense clarity. Expressing itself makes us arrive at solutions, because by sharing our problems/ thoughts we are merely reflecting ourselves in clearer waters.

Amongst all the people that crowd our lives (or friend lists), we have a rare combination of respect and love for those who have been our 'wisdom teeth'. Mentors are beacons that light our path of life.

The calculative attitude in our modern day relationships, that reject every emotional expression as 'melodrama', has driven empathy out of our systems- mental and social. Can this be the reason we refer to the mentors of our lives as being rarely there (or barely there?!)? Spare a moment's thought and you would see it. If everybody is fighting through life and trying to succeed, shouldn't everybody have a good advice or a kind ear to lend? And yet we find only tongue clicks when we seek help. Why the rarity of mentors? Because, there are hundreds of those that advise, but a very few that would want to listen to you? What the world, lacks today is empathy. The first lesson at mentoring would therefore be "A good mentor is first a good listener".

They say, it takes a whole village to raise a child. It is an open secret that our lives are the most organic examples of the lessons we propagate or wish to propagate. In a way, we are all actually mentoring those around us. Test it against your own life's example. Behold, how your memories of wise people are filled with those that 'acted' or 'lived' in a certain manner that inspired you. Actions mentor louder than words.

Commendable is the strength of those that work on themselves. Those that look at their own personalities as shapeless rocks and ruthlessly sculpt through it to become better. The art of mentoring requires you to be blunt with yourself first and then point out your mentees' shortcomings and help them through it.

On a weekday like this, why I write about something as ethereal as mentors, you might ask. I write because I want you to Pause. I know how busy one might be. And yet, I insist, you take a Pause. You wait for a moment and try being there for someone. There would be utter joy in that.

The world is an unappreciative dessert looking for an Oasis of your untapped wisdom. Be that charm. Be that one person that someone else reading this article can bring to their mind as 'their wisdom tooth'. And if you don't get what I mean, just look up to your own mentors! You'll know...

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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