Why you should get a mentor

Socrates and Plato

In the early years of our life (from 1 – 18) we are guided under the strict tutelage of our parents. They provide both financial support and moral support to see us through the formative parts of our lives. Our parents can be regarded as our first mentors. We didn’t choose them, they chose us. Both as we grow older, we tend to drop our first mentors but fail to take up appropriate mentors to see us through the remaining parts of our lives.

Mentorship is a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. Mentorship is as old as the world. From time immemorial men have guided other men in achieving their life goals. In ancient Greek, Aristotle who was often regarded as the father of Western Philosophy who was guided and influenced by Plato, while Plato himself was mentored by Socrates. Robert Noyce, an American Physicist who founded Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel in 1968 was an influential mentor to many American Inventors such as Steve Jobs and Bill Gate. In Nigeria, the emergence of Aliko Dangote as the wealthiest African can be traced to the tutelage he received from his maternal uncle, Al Hassan Dantata.

Aliko Dangote and Uncle Sanusi Dantata. Sanusi Dantata was a mentor to Aliko Dangote.

Mentorship is very important for both career and business success. However, picking your mentor is more important than the mentoring itself as a wrong mentor can set up one for self-destruction. Finding a good mentor can be difficult as good mentors have high demands for their skills and may be reluctant to take on a new protégé. When seeking a mentor, you need to be specific about what you want from the mentor. When approaching a mentor, do not say, “Will you be my mentor”, this question can turn a prospective mentor off. Rather you could say for instance, “Hi Michael, I admire your skills and experience. If you have some spare time, I would like you to explain the skills I need to become a better programmer”. This is a good way to start and you can take it up from here.

There are several benefits of having a mentor. They provide guidance for young and upcoming executives, they serve as trusted advisers, they provide one with encouragement to keep us going, however one of the biggest benefits of having a mentor is that they prevent us from making the same mistakes beginners make. This is great leverage to newbies as they are prepared to overcome the hurdles in their business or career better than people without mentors. This is priceless if you look at it. If you are a young executive you stand a better chance of being promoted better than someone without a mentor. If you are a business owner, you are better placed to reduce loss than someone without a mentor to properly guide them in the business.

As you move into a new year, it is important you get a mentor to guide you in taking critical decisions in your life, career and business. When choosing your mentor is it good to establish a relationship in order to benefit from the mentorship.

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