When Mentors are Unnecessary
December 21, 2010 § 4 Comments
“Hi Coach, what’s our topic for today?” Jake asked.
“The topic would be, When Mentors are Unnecessary,” I replied.
“This seems to be a different thought,” Jake said.
“Before I start, I want to make sure that you do not misunderstand the concept,” I said.
“We all need teachers, mentors, instructors, coaches, disciplers and the like,” I said. “But there are times when it is best not to have them.”
“Let me get this right,” Jake said, “you are not negating their importance nor their necessity in learning, but you are saying that there are exceptions.”
“Having mentors speed up the process for learning,” I said. “It gives us a sense that we are not alone in our learning, our decisions and our life.”
“However?” Jake asked in anticipation.
“There are times when mentors, teachers, coaches, pastors, priests, fathers, and the like become the limits that will hold our full potential,” I said. “They can become the boxes that trap our out-of-the-box thinking. It is possible that you unknowingly operate in a mental framework, which works yet limits.”
“It is ironic for you to say that because you are a mentor yourself,” Jake said, “but I see your point.”
“It is precisely why I am saying it to you,” I said. “I am a mentor, coach, father and pastor. Yet I can be unconsciously a limit to you and all who might admire or follow me.”
“But I have learned a lot from you and I still keep learning,” Jake said.
“I am not stopping you from that,” I said. “You may still keep learning from me if you see it beneficial. I still have a lot to impart to you.”
“Thank goodness,” Jake said. “I thought you were firing me as a client.”
“No, but I want to release you for a while,” I said.
“You mean we will no longer meet?” Jake asked.
“I am always here,” I said. “We’ll just stop the regular meeting.”
“As long as I can still meet you,” Jake said.
“I am just a phone call away,” I said. “Let me give you some reasons why there are times it is best to be free of us.”
“Okay coach. let me hear it,” Jake said “but this feels so strange to me.”
“One. You must learn on your own. Process your ideas without much interference,” I said, “even from a coach.”
“But coach, you taught me to process ideas with others,” Jake said. “Doesn’t that contradict it.”
“No,” I said. “You must consult your ideas to others especially mentors, but this time, I want you to generate ideas that perhaps, few or no one has thought about even your mentors. Ideas that might polarize people to love it or the opposite.”
“No middle ground?” Jake said.
“Staying in the middle means trying to please as many as you can,” I said, “which is not really bad except that you will never excel or standout.”
“You mean to tell me that I must try to conceptualize ideas that even mentors have not thought about?” Jake asked, “not to mention polarize them.”
“Yes. Remember that success is not trying to make everyone like you but creating fans or advocates of a segment,” I explained, “but the other segments may dislike you. If everyone likes your idea then that is middle ground. And middle ground is not striking enough.”
“I think I learned that from my studies,” Jake said. “And I agree. What’s the other reason when mentors are unnecessary?”
“To be incomparable!” I said. “When it is time to let your uniqueness come out.”
“What do you mean?”
“Birds of the same feather flock together, right?” I asked.
“Oh, you are bringing up a past lesson,” Jake said. “But even your past lesson says that I must join a company of eagles, those who think are a cut above the rest.”
“Hold on,” I said. “Do not get excited.”
“It is good to be part of a company of eagles. But each eagle must depart from his family in order to gain his territory,” I said. “A mature eagle will still be alone.”
“Help me integrate it coach.”
“Look beyond your mentors,” I said. “Allow your uniqueness to come out.”
“I am somehow getting it now,” Jake said. “Though I am inspired by role models or mentors, I must one day be the mentor and role model, but that is not all. I must be free to create or evolve into something I have not seen from them. I must be free to be uniquely me – what I was meant to be.”
“At some point you must stop benchmarking,” I said. “Be inspired by us, cherish the lessons, but dream beyond us. You are not me, you were not meant to be like me even if you learned much from me, nor should you remain to be in the shadow of anyone. Step out in faith. Mount the wind. Free your mind.”
“I am getting it,” Jake said. “If I innovate, or start a new category in business, or start a new kind of profession, if it is so new, then no one is an expert yet. No one would be able to mentor me. Most, if not all, will fail to grasp it at first.”
“If other mentors grasp it quickly,” I said, “maybe it is not really new.”
“I get it coach,” Jake said. “May I call you, should I have more questions regarding this topic?”
“Of course,” I said. “But another thing before you go. You are coaching and mentoring some people right?”
“Let them learn from you but do not become their limit. They are not you. Encourage their different-ness to come out. And advise them not to make any other person they admire to be their ceiling or limit,” I advised. “Their minds should be free to soar.”
© Eduardo R. Pilapil Jr. 2010