What is mentorship?

Do not consider these to be the wise words of a 100 year old Professor, but those of myself- one foot in water lest I drown- as I have been taught to understand one of the premises upon which the finest teachers stood and upon which the finest students excelled- MENTORSHIP!

It’s incumbent upon a person of greater knowledge to teach his lesser and the lesser to listen to his senior but how to bestow that knowledge owes a great dependence upon personality. A great mentor will be patient, a skilful orator and doer.

Rtr. Liz wit written stuff
Mentorship at a primary school recently

Many times, mentorship is informal- even unconscious and the apprentice might find himself unconsciously taking to the character and personality of his mentor. In many instances, a person is not your mentor if you have not inherited any- even one- of his characters or personality. So, while many people out there consider certain figures to be their mentors, it helps to realize that without physical interaction over long periods, it’s not mentorship but perhaps qualifies the supposed ‘mentor’ as a role model (yeah, many will bet against this) although I realize that role models can also double as mentors (where physically available to the ‘apprentice’) and vice versa.

Mentorship, is the one way by which civilization has continued to improve and its very roots are long lost in antiquity even as its purpose continues to grow ever stronger. Mega corporations, colleges and governments have embraced mentorship as a way to grow better leaders through such programs as sports, arts and entertainment. Billionaires such as Oprah Winfrey and Donald Trump as well as other celebrities have mentorship programs (Trump’s “The Celebrity Apprentice” perhaps one of the more famous ones {whether the Oprah Winfrey TV show also counts as one is dependent upon your understanding- something to chew on}) inspired either by their own lives (as is the case for Oprah Winfrey) or their ambitions (Trump, Bono, and countless others). Regardless, the benefits are immense; Oprah’s schools in South Africa are doing well, churning out potential leaders all year round while Trump’s reality TV show has made even celebrities better characters.

Alexander The Great
Alexander The Great

What a faithful apprentice will get from a mentorship program is knowledge and experience as vast as he will allow it to be- to stop at admiring those that stood champion or successful in their endeavours and power towards their goals too. The realization that even high achievers are but mortal is motivation enough. While you may bemoan those who were born with a silver spoon and point to that as their reason for success, do realize that those people once had peers born in equal stand but whose vast inheritance crumbled as soon as they took charge. Born with a silver spoon in the mouth, but died beggars. The reason for that is down to a lack of proper mentorship. Pause also and consider those who actually made the silver spoon! There had to be a beginning; someone had to start from scratch- Arthur Guinness for example (don’t squint, dear reader). Maybe all that is required is the will.

The legendary British author William Shakespeare did say “Some people are born great, others achieve greatness while some have greatness thrust upon them.” I respect the middle guys!

The President greets the youth on arrival
The RI President greets the youth on arrival

At our upcoming RYLA (we are going camping- yippee), we will have mentorship and leadership programs- short as they will be but useful. Mentorship, being the very pillar upon which RYLA has thrived since its inception needs to be understood and even encouraged among the youth. The rewards are boundless.

Here’s to Rotary international, for taking to the frontline in the quest to endlessly build generations of great people; great leaders. It’s the foundation upon which Rotaract has continued to stand.

I am sure I didn’t write it as well as a 100 year old professor would, but at least I got you to read. In that case, I hope you have some agreement or disagreement. But one thing is for sure; there’s no limit to what we can achieve.



Peter King


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s