Mentor as anything

Don't count on just one.
Mentor is a plural

Well O.K. mentor is not a plural – and that’s the problem I have with it.

People say “I need a mentor”

I respond “You don’t need a mentor. You need mentors, one is never enough”.

I aspire to being a copy of many. I also aspire to being a copy of no one.

Mentors are abundant.

Many of mine don’t even know I exist. Seth Godin, Peter Senge, the woman who writes the Tiny Happy blog, Warren Bennis, Jane Kennelly (she does know me), Prime Minister John Key (he doesn’t), Maori Party Leaders Tania Turia and Pita Sharples. My list is almost endless. They are usually easy to find – they may or may not be alive, but they have/had a habit of living and making the most of the life they have/had. I don’t agree with them in total, I don’t need to. That’s healthy

From each I take a tiny piece of their passion, their wisdom, their shared learning, their life experiences, their courage and consciously or unconsciously weave it into my life, what I value, where I want to be and how I wish to achieve it.

I do this because I’ve known for a long time that I had far more to learn and unlearn than the education system could ever teach me. And indeed much of what the education system taught me needs unlearning as well. [pullquote]I’ve known for a long time that I had far more to learn and unlearn than the education system could ever teach me.[/pullquote]As leaders we should both be mentors and mentoree’s. None should put themselves on the pedestal of having all the answers or leading in a way that is ‘my way or the highway’.

Leaders are better than that and so are their followers.

Set a ripple going within people, which will ultimately become a ripple outside the person. A ripple that flows over, around, or through, others and quietly but surely moves them as well.

Don’t encourage clones, encourage mutations.

We all need mentors and we need to encourage others to learn from multiple sources (e.g. the world). All the best lessons in life are free.

  • Observe.
  • Be patient.
  • Be impatient.
  • Read.
  • Un-learn.
  • Learn.
  • Re-learn
  • Grow.
  • Crash.
  • Celebrate.

Being less than perfect is a great place to be for anyone.

The dynamic optimist might say “the future holds great riches, but first you must make the effort to learn, to unlearn and to share.”

5 Replies to “Mentor as anything”

  1. Dear Richard,
    I love this topic. You are absolutely right. Unlearning is the great process and very difficult to learn. But when you learn to unlearn, your personal transformation starts. Analogy of cloning and mutation is classic and appealing too. Yes,We should encourage mutataion ( bad habits, norms, customs,stereotype thinking etc) and should discourage cloning ( follow of customs,practices, beliefs that do more harm than help). Development is the exchange process and needs more than two to learn effectively and efficiently. So we need both ie mentors and mentorees. I believe, ripple is a inflection point.
    I also agree that today more than education, we need life lessons from experienced people. In education we learn subjects than the experience and values. So life learning is the best teacher and unlearning is the great process.

  2. Dear Richard,
    While appreciating your views on Mentor as a plural, I beg to differ. Mentor has to be only one person at any point of time to remain focused on your goal. You are in a close personal touch to get adequately guided and pulled for your shortcomings. It’s only a mentor to sharpen your skills and help you to explore your hidden potential.

    You may admire more than one person and may immitate them to upgrade your skills or charisma but you can’s term them as mentors. Having more than one mentor reflects on your diversed mind and tendency of changing goals fast.

    Actually speaking, getting even one good mentor itself is quite difficult. Even, a mentor has to accept you as his pupil to get the desired learning. Swami Vivekanand took years to find Shri Ramana Maharshi as his idol /’Guru’.

    1. Dear Mrunal, thank you so much for joining us. I think we are on the same page, perhaps my point is better made by saying – ‘don’t wait too long you can learn from many people and situationally along the way’. I know at times their are specific people i call on and feel pleased to have their time and guidance. Your point about Swami Vivekanand is well made. Thank you again for calling by and i look forward to more dialogue through this forum. Warm regards


    1. Dear Ajay, thank you for adding that – though for me i understood your intention perfectly. And thank you for your enthusiasm about this post. i brings to mind also that sometimes we can follow the wrong ‘model’ and that can also be very damaging and is very difficult to undo. Thank you again for contributing with such thought, best regards Richard

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