The Value of Mentorship

General Trading August 8, 2016
A good mentor is just as important as talent. This is something everyone getting into a career learns at some point. The mentor acts as the incubator that ensures that the talent no matter how ingenious doesn’t go to waste. Many however try to down play the importance of a mentor in a young professional’s life, giving unsound reason such as the mentee being stuck in the mentor’s shadows or the mentor’s shoes being too big for the mentee to fill. This couldn’t be more untrue. Mentorship is what elevates you to the next level in your career. Bill Gates had a mentor in Warren Buffet. Oprah Winfrey had a mentor in Maya Angelou. Richard Branson had a mentor in Sir Freddie Laker, CEO of Laker Airways. Steve Jobs was a mentor to Mark Zuckerberg. Mentors aren’t necessarily and always same industry professionals or notables. The idea of mentorship is to keep the mentee, the talent in line in terms of handling success, dealing with challenges, financial responsibility, the right attitude and so on. But it isn’t only billionaires who have had mentors. Take a look at the story of acclaimed screen personality, Denzel Washington who narrates how his mentor, one out of several, had a lasting impact on his attitude to work, and his belief in himself. Denzel Washington speaks fondly of one of the several mentors he has had in life, a man he refers to as a force of nature, Billy Thomas from the Boys Club in Vermont, New York where he spent most of his time as a kid. Denzel says Billy made him feel so special he began to copy the things he did and how he treated people. The deal Billy had with the kids at the Boys Club where when each one went to college they had to send him a pennant that he hung on the wall. Looking at all the pennants from different schools and places he had never even heard about, Denzel says he kept on believing that if the other kids could make it out of their town, then surely he could too. Denzel also recalls his English teacher in Fordham University who wrote him a letter of recommendation after his involvement in a student production of Othello, he says that letter kept him motivated and going on rough days and he kept on thinking, if I'm as good as he thinks I am, then I really have to live up to those words. mentor300 Truly, there are lots of young and talented individuals out there who need help in shaping their attitudes, their reactions and their sense of responsibilities to go with the talent that they possess. One thing I try to do when speaking to people about mentorship is to redefine their idea of who a mentor or what mentorship entails. It isn’t always someone high and powerful who opens doors and connections for the mentee. Mentorship is about teaching, directly or indirectly, I say indirectly because some mentees have been mentored from their mentors through their books, or teachings or via letter or email correspondence. Wet behind the ears, full of ambition and promise, eager to change the world, the talent can all too easily get it wrong without the right hand of guidance to put them right. I mean, what would the incredibly gifted mutants be without the mentorship of Professor Xavier?