Friday, August 12, 2011

On mentoring

Talking with my special lady about a couple of things, she mentioned that I should read books and listen to mentors. When we talk sometimes, she mentions going to see a mentor about stuff (yup, she consulted with a mentor about me). Not being the first time she’d brought up the matter, I had to ask myself if I had any mentors.

Before I try to attempt to deep-dive into the issue, I need to address the definition of the word “mentor” itself. It has become one of the most overused – and equally misused – words in the English language, as far as people in my age bracket and country are concerned, anyway.

The word “mentor” is from Mentor, a character in Homer’s Odyssey. Mentor was a friend to the hero of the Odyssey, Odysseus (or Ulysses, if you prefer the Roman form). Odysseus left his palace, his wife, Penelope, and young son, Telemachus, in Mentor’s care. Mentor was supposed to raise Telemachus as Odysseus would have have. Please see this Wikipedia article for more information on Mentor and mentoring.

By implication from the source, mentoring implies a close personal relationship between mentor and protégé, which is a cause of much personal amusement when some young person proudly says, “So-and-so is my mentor”, and I’m certain know So-and-so doesn’t have the foggiest that that young person even exists! “Role model” would be a much more appropriate description, but I do not intend to become a semantics Nazi.

One of the duties of a mentor is to “scan the protégé’s life for viruses”, as I put it. One deliberately gives one’s mentor the authority to correct them. Unfortunately, so many of the self-styled protégés of the renowned people we have today would not be willing to put themselves under anyone’s authority, much less that of the people they call '”mentor”.

Anyhow, back to my original point: I’ve had to ask myself if I had mentoring, and have to conclude, by and large, no, I don’t. It’s a humbling discovery. If I’d had mentoring, I might have possibly done a whole lot more than I have at this point. I’ve to look for mentoring in the areas of my life I consider important, where I want to make progress in.

In my currently chosen area of endeavour, I don’t see a whole lot of mentoring going on. Most developers/techies have this “I pulled myself up by my bootstraps” thing going on. Probably because by nature, we’re independents, but that’s another thing.

I really would like to polish and make this post a lot better, but it’s in danger of not getting out of draft (I’m in “meh” mode. Again. Sigh), so I’d best hit that “Publish” button.

Do you have a mentor?

1 comment:

Imisi said...

Continue like this - and you just might become my mentor ☺! Good one.