I like to think a lot of people, especially Africans, have abused the true concept of mentorship or have no idea at all. Mentorship is supposed to be a dynamic, supportive relationship between an experienced individual (mentor) and a less experienced person (mentee) but it appears to be a tactic of gathering followers, in the guise of influencing them positively. If you’re social media savvy like I am, you would acknowledge that one of the platforms that enables most mentorship activities is Facebook.
In present times, it’s uncommon to scroll through your news feed five times successfully without seeing a mentorship window open, either through an ad or a sponsored post. While I do not have a problem with mentorship, I’m concerned about the similarity between most of them which is quite baffling – leaving me with no other choice than to reconsider the idea of joining a mentorship program in this part of the world; and to also be discerning enough to avoid falling into wrong hands.
One of the things I noticed is that some of these programs care less about their members’ deepest personal interests, goals, and even creativity. In addition, there’s no free flow of interaction that can foster vulnerability, to facilitate easy acceptance of errors and loving correction. A good number of them – ‘mentors’ are mostly particular about making a name for themselves by mandating their members to expose them to a wider audience through tons of appreciation posts, when little or no value has been given out. This does not imply that I’m against appreciation, rather I’m worried that this is the focus and true aim of such mentorship.
Of course, I’m not neglecting the place of value alignment, because something (usually a common interest) must have attracted you to them. After all, it’s not a forced program. However, I’ve seen a recurring pattern where these supposed “Mentors” only draft out a pattern or lifestyle for their mentees to follow, in the guise of “To achieve the same results I have, you must do the same things I do” – not minding that it might not work out for others, just because it worked for them.
Undeniably, there are certain patterns that successful people follow, which are mostly: Time management, discipline, diligence, consistency, hard work, and the 80/20 principle – where you spend 80% of your energy and time doing 20% of the things that matter most to you and produces greater results. Nevertheless, these patterns are general and can be applied by anyone who wants to achieve success in life, contrasting to specific patterns peculiar to individual assignments.
This implies that there’s a particular pattern that each of us is expected to live by, to fully actualize our dreams. A person might have to drop out of College to pursue their innermost passion without restrictions – just like Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc, did – while another might need to finish through college and get a Master’s degree to be equipped enough to handle what’s ahead of them. In essence, it’s different folks, different strokes.
Hence, no one should be forced to do otherwise than what they feel led to, in the guise of mentorship. Of course, it’s imperative to follow laid down rules and regulations, but don’t forget the place of asking questions and standing up for what you believe in. Without an iota of doubt, it is only with a mind of his or her own that one can actively know what will work for them and whatnot.
Therefore, if anyone or any program forces you into doing something against your belief, or that which you stand for, (I’m talking about an environment that fosters destructive criticism, abusive members, and shunning your ideas and opinions…) you should take to your heels, knowing that you cannot truly unlock your potentials in such toxic environment.
In essence, there should be a balance between showing your members what and how to do; providing them guidance and support, and creating room for creativity and self-discovery – allowing them to figure out certain things by themselves, rather than follow a pattern laid out.
Another impression I would like to correct is that created by the ‘Mentees’ – those who apply for mentorship programs. It would be biased to focus on the flaws of the mentors alone. The reason mentorship might seem like a scam to some people is partly due to their nonchalant attitude. These are lazy mentees, who are unwilling to partake in any task assigned to them and talk less about knowing what would work for them, and whatnot. They have no idea that mentorship is a two-way thing, and both parties involved must play their roles accordingly, to achieve success. When it becomes one-sided, it’s no longer mentorship but a one-man-ship; and unfortunately, a one-man-ship bearing the burden of two passengers will likely sink.
Thus, the whole point of this article is to bring to consciousness the true concept of mentorship, in my opinion – it being mutually beneficial to both parties involved; so that in the end, everyone is truly fulfilled, and has achieved or at least, is on their way to achieving the career jet they intended at the onset of the program.