Sun | Aug 19, 2018

Glenford Smith | The power of a mentor

Published:Sunday | April 2, 2017 | 12:00 AM

We need mentors. If we want to sell more on the job, produce more efficiently, go further faster along in our careers, it is not optional.

Life is very short, and you only have so much time, money, and energy to invest. You can waste time trying to figure it out by yourself or take the easier way out and get a mentor.

'Mentor', meaning a wise and trusted teacher, friend, and guide is a word we get from Homer's The Odyssey. Mentor as a concept referred to the wise guardian of Telemachus in the Odyssey. Today, it means someone usually older, with much more knowledge, wisdom, or experience than their juniors.

It is Aristotle to Alexander the Great. It is Michael Manley and P.J. Patterson to Portia Simpson-Miller. It is Socrates to Plato. It is Edward Seaga to Andrew Holness.


Strengths and weaknesses


A mentor has his or her strengths and weaknesses. It is unwise to expect that your mentor is strong in all areas. He or she will have areas of weakness, but you need to guard yourself against them and benefit from his/her strength.

Where do you find a mentor? How do you relate to your mentor? How do you know whether he or she is the right one for you in your career? How do you know if a mentor-mentee relationship has ran its course?

Everything about a mentor begins when you decide on the field you wish to excel in. That is where you start. Look around for the most eminent person in your field who you can emulate.

Engineer circumstances to make their acquaintance. Make sure that you are compatible then put yourself under his or her mentorship. Remember, you are doing so to learn.

Also you must seek to reciprocate to make the relationship go on an even basis. You must take the time to learn about your mentor's likes and dislikes. Stay away from the latter and spend time engaged in the former. Serve in whatever way is possible. Make yourself a ready listener to your mentor, and watch how much you say.

You will know it is a good fit when, over time, you begin to find yourself operating in similar ways to your mentor. You begin to look at your career in new and interesting ways as a result of mentorship.


Power of books


Sometimes circumstances make it impossible to get the benefits of a face-to-face, one-to-one mentor. In such cases, draw upon the power of books and the internet. Get the books of Usain Bolt for instance, or Nathaniel Branden, who has died.

Watch the autobiography of Oprah Winfrey or Steve Jobs. There has never been a time when it is easier to get the thoughts and ideas of our heroes. With books and the internet, you have unlimited access. Make use of it.

With a face-to-face mentor, there may come a time when you feel you cannot learn anything more from a particular mentor. Or he or she may be trying to keep you back from becoming your best. In either case, you must cut the relationship as amicably as possible.

- Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of 'From Problems to Power' and co-author of 'Profile of Excellence'.