You need mentorship, not role models

Without deceit, the parents of a child is his/her role models, but it is (now) alarming – how some young people (who desire to be successful) run after some seemingly successful individuals who project themselves as role models.

As a result of this, most people, especially, young ones, who (narrowly) hit on success quickly institute mentoring programmes without astute knowledge of what mentoring entails: at the end, most common submission of those who troop to them is, ‘all these young people that are starting mentorship programmes think it is a means to make money from their mentees. The most surprising thing is that the moment you get in touch with them, you will start to fill forms to see them, you will be asked to buy some tapes, books at exorbitant fees’.

To elaborate the increase of mentoring programmes, here is what The Hamilton Fish Institute on School and Community Violence & The National Mentoring Center at Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory have to say:

Mentoring is an increasingly popular way of providing guidance and support to young people in need. Recent years have seen youth mentoring expand from a relatively small youth intervention (usually for youth from single-parent homes) to a cornerstone youth service that is being implemented in schools, community centers, faith institutions, school-to-work programs, and a wide variety of other youth-serving institutions.[1]

Unfortunately, many of the mentoring programmes are turned into role-modeling programmes. Whereas, both mentors and mentees are of different personality traits that create a huge difference in: perspective, tastes, and process of assimilation among others.

Being successful in a field, profession or business does not qualify one as ‘mentor’

This is something that everyone must know: mentoring programme is like running an academic institution, in which students advance from base levels to higher levels.

Mentoring is not and should not be taken as a sandwich programmes: rather, it is a lifelong programme – continued or discontinued after the students may have become successful.

Unfortunately, many mentoring programmes (perhaps, mostly in Nigeria) do not fit into this style of development. Instead, they would fit, only, into training programmes – where a successful person in any line of business, profession trains those aspiring to go in that line – equipping them with the necessary skills and knowledge.

In this regard, training is not a lifelong programme, although, it could be scheduled from intermediate to professional levels.

This is buttressed by the points from the Victoria Department of Planning and Community Development, which says:

“Mentoring is not the same as coaching although sometimes coaching programs are labeled as “mentoring” and sometimes a mentoring relationship can include aspects of coaching. The key differences relate to the focus and objectives of mentoring as opposed to coaching”.[2]

Why mentorship and not role models

As we have explained and revealed above, you would notice that mentoring tends to help you become successful via personal guidance of your mentor (over a lifelong period), whereas, role modeling has nothing to offer you in this regard, because it (only) means that you are going to tailor your life after the person you admire – that is dangerous for you.

Role modeling is dangerous because your time and that of your role model have no correlation: there must have been some vast changes in: process, standards, awareness, methods, etc., in how things are done during the time that your so called role model was building his/her career or business – compared to what applies in your own time.

Another thing is that, except any of your parents is your role model, you will not have constant personal rapport with the role model. Whereas, for you to make constant progress – you must have up-to-date conversation with your mentor.

Also, your role model has his/her unique traits that make him/her go for the line of business/profession in which he/she has become successful: you may not have the same traits with him/her, but a mentor will help you to understand your uniqueness and, then, helps you to follow your passion.

The conclusion of the whole matter

Mentorship is not role modeling, training or coaching programmes. Rather, it is a lifelong programme that seeks to help the mentees make the most of their talents, skills and potentials – as the mentors take the mentees through various developmental processes.

Mentorship encourages constant personal relationship between the mentors and the mentees, and though, it is paid for (in some cases) – it is a lifelong programme. The best, however, is to have a natural mentorship scenario, where you could have direct access to someone that could guide you in the journey of life.

[1] Foundations of Successful Youth Mentoring, About the Effective Strategies for Providing Quality Youth Mentoring in Schools and Communities Series, Pg5.

[2] Victoria Department of Planning and Community Development, A Guide to Effective Practice for Mentoring Young People, Pg10.

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