By Majid Gafoor
If a person lives alone on an island devoid of stimuli and input from the outside world, he would become a simple person with simple needs. His life would be focused on survival and comfort.
For most of us, that is neither an option nor practical. So we live in the real world where we are bombarded daily with information, media presentations and opinions.
Television, radio, the internet, blogs, links and other electronic transmissions offer up a plethora of virtual ideas and lifestyles all packaged to give the biggest punch in the shortest period. Facts be damned. Let’s just entertain.
Books, the earliest product to provide knowledge, have now been hijacked by the need to set an agenda. In the end, they have lost their way – instead of expanding the mind, they limit a person’s thinking.
Politicians pose as normal people with the best interests of their constituents in mind, but actually serve self interests bound by vested interests that will help them get re-elected.
Religion tries to provide a way forward, but is hampered by the tragedies that strike mankind and is at a loss to explain the natural disasters that occur at regular intervals.
It is little wonder, therefore, that the youth of today are confused and bewildered by the society in which they live and are left to their own devices on how to deal with the questions on life.
What should I do? How should I go about taking the first step? Is there a straight answer? And what are the consequences? These are questions that pop up in young minds, not only at the professional level, but also along lines of dealing with society and personal relationships.
This maelstrom of doubt and confusion can easily lead to inertia and instead of moving forward, the person actually starts falling backward.
Enter the mentor.
The mentor is a person who can help resolve some of the issues that the youth of today are facing.
The mentor is not gender specific, but he/she must be a person of experience in a variety of situations. This means he is usually an older person, possibly but not necessarily retired. He is a person who wears his laurels with humility and bares his failures without shame or apology.
Not everyone can be a mentor. The person who is wildly successful, but hides or minimizes his failures is unsuitable. If he loves to hear his own voice and only trumpets his projects he is not a good mentor.
More than experience, the mentor must be a good listener. The mentee must trust that when he bares his soul, the mentor will keep the confidence as sacred. What is essential for the mentor to offer to the mentee is the benefit of the experience that the mentor has accumulated over the years. They represent the lessons learned both from the successes as well as the failures.
The lessons cover the whole gamut of life and for this reason, the mentor should be able to talk about and share his experiences in career, studies, friendship, family and yes, even in love matters. This must be carried out in an atmosphere of mutual trust without judgmental advice. What is needed is a dialogue that leads to options and conclusions based on real life experiences.
The mentor/mentee relationship must be one of complete trust in each other and so there is a common goal that is achieved through discussion and mutual understanding.
Just as not everyone can be a mentor, not everyone can be or wish to be a mentee. There must be a synergy between the two that comes almost naturally. There are no schools for mentors or mentees. They just happen. When they work, both benefit. When they don’t, it was not meant to be.
Majid Gafoor is a former journalist from Hong Kong. He now lives in Canada