By Akanksha Mittal:
Unlike teaching in schools and colleges, mentoring is hardly ever done for personal gain. The word mentoring comes from the Greek word, “enduring”. While traditionally the role of a mentor has always been to inspire the mentee. The mentor-mentee relationship has always been considered mentee-specific wherein the mentee is on the receiving end. However, in the era of changing relationship dynamics, the mentor-mentee relationships are constantly molding themselves into opportunities for mutual growth for both the parties.
Both the mentor and the mentee work together on a particular project to be able to learn from each other. While the mentee learns from the experience of the mentor, the mentor has lots to learn from the raw enthusiasm and fresh ideas of the mentee. These changing dynamics are very well tapped by MNCs and other working organizations where apprenticeship is a famous means of on-the-job training.
The word mentor in fact has an interesting history which I find apt to share here. Mentor was the name of the person to whom Odysseus entrusted the care of his child when he set out on his “odyssey”. Mentor was the entrusted counselor of Odysseus and a tutor for his son, who inspired him in many ways. Myth has it that goddess Athena would assume Mentor’s form for the purpose of giving counsel to Odysseus.
While a good mentor would be someone with a desire to help others, capable of solving problems, experienced in his sphere of interest, enterprising and welcome to learning from new ideas, it is the attitude of the mentee which really matters. A person need not necessarily learn from a single mentor who has been formally appointed to help the mentee out with his/her project. But, the mentee needs to have an attitude that allows him/her to learn from any source that comes their way. It is utterly essential for the mentee to be focused on their goal and be determined to work towards it without expecting to have someone to fall back upon. However, it is in the best interest of both the mentee and the mentor to have a personal sense of responsibility towards each other, be willing to meet or communicate on a regular basis and be open to the ideas of each other.
While there isn’t a specific age at which a person qualifies to be a mentor, experience is what really counts. Any person who has had positive experiences and is capable of sharing stories of success and failure with another person to help them learn from his/her mistakes can be a mentor. Personally, I do not think it is important for the mentor and mentee to hit off from the very first moment. Learning can take place only if the receiver (mentee) is capable of absorbing things from his/her environment. In that case, whether the mentee and mentor have a “friendly” relationship does not hold much significance.
Lastly, I quote Bob Sampson;
“Allow humans to be themselves
and celebrate that selfness.
Love the metaphoric mind
and respect the rational.
Consider any attempt
at communication appropriate.
Celebrate the whole person.”