The Need For A Mentor


Dear Young Man: A Guide To Mentoring

A few years ago, I was in South Africa and I stayed in my mentor's house. One day, he called me from Nigeria and gave me directions to a particular location I had to access by taking the Gautrain. He was on the phone with me almost throughout the journey which took about 2 hours. Eventually, I arrived at a choice piece of real estate and that night, what he taught me about real estate I have not read in any book. Much later, he called me one evening and asked me to drive towards a place called Siun along Sagamu-Abeokuta Road. When I met him there, he taught me about positioning for opportunities with the benefit of foresight. As I left my car to ride with him, he took me round that environment. He actually opened my eyes to the transformation happening around that area and how that axis will open up within 10 years. He taught me about risk taking. I have learnt about charity through him. I have observed how he works extremely hard even for his age. I have seen how content he is and learnt that one of his greatest strengths is his humility. Through him I have learnt that you can have gold and still be godly. I have observed his tremendous love for his wife even in the midst of longstanding challenges.

He has mentored me for about 17 years now. Yet I have never asked him for money since I knew him. He is absolutely well to do- mildly speaking. I have never even asked him to open an account with any bank I worked for - despite the fact that I have worked for about 7 banks. The few times he did, the request came from him personally. On one occasion, he expressed surprise that I have never discussed the issue of account opening with him. I have never asked him for special favors- not even for any connection. All I want is his wisdom. For me, in accordance with Proverbs 4:7, wisdom is the principal thing. Not money. And definitely not connection.

I have benefitted immensely from my mentor's wealth of knowledge and not necessarily from his deep pockets. And this is where so many people miss it now. I've had many people contact me for mentorship but I ended up finding out that what they needed was either a meal ticket or some form of favours. It breaks my heart when I see people make serious errors of judgment by choosing what is inconsequential to their lives. There was an instance when I refused a young man some financial favour he requested for and he shut the door. Till date, every text I send goes unanswered. And this was one person who requested for personal mentoring!

So this is to the young man who wants me to mentor him. I trust these tips will guide you so you can maximize the relationship:

1. A mentor is not a meal ticket. I don't provide money. I provide wisdom. Many people don't need mentors. What they need are business partners. Don't ask your mentor for financial favours. That will ruin the relationship. Rather ask for wisdom and guidance. Stop asking for money. If you get the wisdom, money is just a matter of time.

2. A mentor cannot solve all problems. I don't have a magic wand. I can talk to you about finance, leadership, purpose, business and excellence but I can't suggest who to marry to you. I don't know all things. I'm not the Holy Spirit. Certain things still remain your responsibility including the decisions you make. Your decisions are ultimately yours. Remember that even if I counsel you, your failures are strictly yours. I can't take responsibility for what you should. Recognize the expertise of the mentor.

3. Mentoring is a long term relationship. It is not short term. I have known my mentor for about 17 years and we are still going strong. Be ready to go the whole hog with me. You can't get all you need in one month or even one year. The best things in life unfold gradually.

4. Mentoring requires patience. You want something badly but you must be patient enough to get it. I'm going to try your patience- sometimes deliberately to know if you really want it that bad. I won't pick your calls sometimes. I won't respond to your mails at other times. All I'm trying to do is to stoke up the hunger within you. The hungrier you are, the easier it is to pass across timeless wisdom.

5. Mentees must curry the favour of the mentor. I have what you want and you must devise all means possible to get it from me. Stop visiting your mentors empty handed. I am not begging for a gift from you but if you want to collect something from me, you must release what is in your hands. Pro 18:16 (Message Translation) says a gift gets attention; it buys the attention of eminent people.

6. A mentor is not going to find you. You should find the mentor. I believe this is clear enough.

7. The greatest resource a mentor can give to the mentee is time. Use the time wisely. Ask questions. Observe quietly. But don't waste that time. Value it. Appreciate it. The greatest commodity that I have is not money. It's time.

8. A mentor is not your friend. Don't take that relationship for granted. I do not take my mentor for granted. I know his house but I don't barge in on him. I have access to him but I don't abuse that access. I don't call him at odd hours. I don't get too familiar. A mentorship can develop into a relationship later on.

So, dear mentee, a mentor helps you to prepare for the future. In the words of Isaac Newton, "If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." A mentor provides ideas, thoughts and insights that elevate your thinking. A mentor can push you to the next level. A mentor nurtures. A mentor shares valuable life lessons. A mentor shares their mistakes you so you don't have to make the same mistakes again.

I trust this guide helps you.

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