Really Make a Difference – Become a Mentor

What is a mentor? And how and why does one to become a mentor. The concept is almost as old as humanity. The role of the mentor was established in law by Hammurabi in his code, which is recognized as the first codification of civil law, about 1770 BC. The word “mentor” is derived from the name of the person entrusted with the education of Ulysses’ son, when Ulysses went off to fight the Trojan War, in about 1200 BC. The concept was institutionalized down through the ages in every apprenticeship and guild that has ever existed. But while every management book of our age raves of the benefits of mentorship, still few of us actually have mentors.

Formal Education and Ego Make It Hard to Become a Mentor

With the rise of generalized formal education, we have eliminated the role of “personalized” education. Today information, not practical wisdom, is valued. It is housed in books and transferred through lectures. Dates are memorized, but the lessons of history are not learned. Arithmetic is practiced by rote, but skills are not mastered. Theories are discussed, but sound judgment is not developed. Beyond limiting ourselves with this one-dimensional view of knowledge, we have inflated our egos with an “amateur- hour” view of the world which discounts the role of hard work, expertise and mastery. Sometimes, it is hard to see the point of having a mentor, or putting in the effort to become a mentor.

What Is so Important about Being and Having a Mentor?

To answer this question, you just need to look around. If you do, you will see people reaching adulthood without the basic skills or judgment needed for success in life. As they go through life they will learn by trial and error, paying far too high a price and wasting a tremendous amount of valuable time.

What Does It Take to Be a Mentor?

There are three components to become a mentor: First, basic coaching skills that will help you understand and communicate with your mentee. Second, practical wisdom acquired from a lifetime of experience and study. Third, a willingness to take the time to teach in a personal way that fully engages the mentee, and encourages them with a combination of acceptance and tough love.

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Dave Iuppa
JTS Advisors Strategy and Accountability Coach

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  1. says

    You are so correct, today our educational system is totally geared towards memorizing facts, and not really learning how to learn. Real wisdom is being able to make sounds decisions with good judgment, knowing what long term effects will be, and looking at the big picture in life. Today, many people don’t have anyone to look towards for this wisdom, even parents who are many times too busy to teach it if they even wanted to. We need more life coaches.

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