Steven Spielberg once said, “The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” And this is an apt explanation for what makes a perfect mentor.
Mentoring is often confused with the sole responsibility of giving advise on the questions your mentee seeks an answer to. Instead, mentoring is that stage in our lives where both the sides get an opportunity to share their experiences and grow together. If someone were to ask me (I hope they do!), finding a good mentor stands equal to finding yourself a ‘stepping stone with a box of chocolates waiting for you.’
I’m going to elaborate on this metaphoric relation but before that, I want you to know that regardless of the fact whether you have been a mentor or mentee or both, you should know that you’ve taken up a responsibility and contributed to making someone smile because they finished the article you assigned to them or they were appreciated by their boss for performing well (via you).
When I think of a stepping stone, it’s a turning point in our life. We relate it to a learning experience that goes a long way in making us the person that we are. In another way, it takes you a step closer to exploring yourself for better.
As unprecedented as it may seem, this is a lot similar to what a perfect mentor might feel like.
I sincerely believed that a mentor comes into our life as the person who is likely to pile us up with work and deadlines. They make us do their menial tasks and we are just puppets following their lead. But what happened this time was quite the opposite. You were the blessing in disguise that helped me understand my own shortcomings. I became a lot more organized and I started using the Notes feature on my iPhone more often. I had to start planning the week ahead and decide my targets. I think it would be fair to say that I learned how to balance as well since I had to fit in your work between college, social obligations, Suits & FRIENDS commitments and sleep.
There were days when I couldn’t work (read: didn’t want to) and I defaulted on the submissions. You were mad at me (messages typed in BOLD say it all) and you made feel so ‘unprofessional’ and ‘irresponsible’. This is the part where my ego kicked in and I told myself, “I don’t care!” But after a few doughnuts I calmed down and I understood why it is important. I half-heartedly got back to work and did as I was told. Once the work was done, I leaned back on my desk and smiled to myself, “Damn! My mentor made me go the extra mile and stop being a lazy ass!” This is where our mentor-mentee relationship became a milestone by making me understanding commitment and be reliable.
But this wasn’t my worst, was it? I remember that week when I was absolutely directionless and I did not know what to do. I’m not exaggerating, I tuned my brain to forget that I was ever involved in any sort of work commitment. Your had asked me to brainstorm for ideas and well, all I knew was the dinner menu that night. I felt hopeless and lost. I called you and you heard me crib (maybe even sob) about how I couldn’t figure out what to next. You heard me, consoled me and then we worked out a plan. Your told me, “All’s well that ends well!” This is the part where you love your mentor for accepting you instead of blaming you for falling back.
When it was time for me to leave the job, I realized that I came in as someone just looking for something-to-do but the person walking out is someone who grew beyond their weaknesses, learnt to step out of their comfort zone and found a friend to stick to. That qualifies for a stepping stone, right ? You helped me bring myself to a stage where I feel ready to a leap forward and meet the challenges.
And about the chocolates, you’ve always appreciated what I wrote. That’s the acknowledgement that made me happy every day.
Thank you, Mentor.
Picture Credits- Google images
By Pratishtha Khattar