Moses passed on his baton to Joshua just as Elijah passed his on to Elisha. Mentorship passes on a baton from one generation to another. When people are mentored, their journey to the top is made easier because they are likely to skip all the errors of their mentors. They are likely not to repeat the mistakes of those who held their hands because such mentors forewarn them about where some choices may likely end them.
It is absolutely great to have the privilege of being mentored by someone you hold in high esteem. However, there are ‘dos and don’ts’ one must be careful to adhere to if they want to have a lasting mentee-mentor relationship.
When you see a beautiful garden, it didn’t just sprout up. It was carefully nurtured by someone. Anything that lasts and becomes profitable has been tediously nurtured and so is a mentee-mentor relationship. When we brazenly flout the rules for the nurturing process, there is no progress. To be a great mentee, take note of these;
1. No one owes you mentorship!
It is interesting to sometimes note how many walk about with a sense of entitlement as though someone owes them something. When you feel entitled to a thing, you admit you deserve it. You perceive it as a right, not a privilege. Instead of politely asking for it, you DEMAND it. Instead of gently asking whether someone is available to talk, you INSIST they should be available. Instead of waiting for people to respond to your messages at their convenience, you ORDER them to respond to such now!
As a mentee, the first thing you should understand is that no one owes you mentorship. It is only a privilege others afford you if they accommodate you in their space to be mentored. When you feel those you look up to should compulsorily mentor you, you soon become a nuisance. When you feel entitled to mentorship, you soon force yourself on your mentors. You can even literally threaten them at a point when they are not giving you enough attention.
Having a sense of entitlement in the context of mentorship is like standing beneath life’s ladder and screaming at your mentors to push you because it is their responsibility. Mentorship is a privilege, not a right. Don’t be a demanding mentee!
2. Have a plan!
Every mentee ought to have a plan; goals for why they need to be mentored. When we don’t have plans or goals, we become a pain in the butts of our mentors. We are almost always asking them needless questions and asking for help that may not even be relevant to the mentorship process. To make a mentee-mentor relationship relevant, the mentee should have a written vision for this relationship.
There ought to be targets to reach. A mentee has to have a detailed plan as to what they want to achieve within a particular period of time of their mentorship. A mentee should envisage a future bigger than their mentor’s. Where there’s no plan, there’s unfortunately no progress. Mentees bother their mentors with irrelevant matters which soon frustrate the relationship when they don’t know what they want from these mentors.
If you don’t have a need as a mentee, you don’t need a mentor. If you have a need, then you should have a plan as to how someone can help you fulfill that need.
3. Your mentor is not your friend!
It is quite easy to take things for granted when people we esteem permit us into their privacy. We sometimes become so familiar with them that we assume we are even better than they are, especially when we are privy to their shortcomings.
One commandment every mentee should know is that their mentor is not their friend. A friend is someone you goof around with. They are people you can touch in any manner. Friends are people you can share anything with. Until your mentor goes beyond the boundaries of mentorship and regards you as a friend, they are not your friend!
Sitting next to a king doesn’t make you their next of kin. When you get close to people you hold in high esteem, don’t reduce the honor you had for them. Still keep the distance. You both are not at the same level!
4. Mentorship is not always physical!
In this age of internet and social media, mentees ought to know that mentorship can take place anywhere. A Ghanaian somewhere in Chorkor can be mentored by another in faraway Egypt. Thanks to the internet. Today, we don’t need to physically enter into the privacy of our mentors to be mentored. Physical presence is not necessarily a must for mentorship.
One should not feel any less of a mentee if their mentor wants to keep their privacy. If people admit to mentor you over the internet, you should not force your way into their homes or offices. Mentorship can be in any form. What matters most is the impartation of knowledge and skills.
Some mentors have had bad experiences when they allowed strangers into their closets. One should respect the choice, thus, of their mentor if they decide to keep a little distance from them. Instead of pushing to get closer, build the level of trust they have in you. When they can afford to trust you, they can afford to let you in!
By Kobina Ansah
The writer is a Ghanaian playwright and Chief Scribe of Scribe Communications (www.scribecommltd.com), an Accra-based writing firm. His new play is “Emergency Wedding”.