Our elders have sayings that describe every situation perfectly. In praise of some of these descriptions, better known as proverbs, my piece addresses the importance of mentoring. It is said that if a child washes his hands he can eat with kings. To wit, if a child prepares and allows him/herself to be trained, when an opportunity presents itself, that child will easily identify it, run with it and achieve success; Aptly said. Some people have had to go through life without strict guidance in the form of mentor-ship or parenting but they have looked up to people and followed their paths and made it.
Others have had a whole village raise them. In that, their families, teachers, religious leaders, chiefs and elder siblings, for example, have held their hands every step of the way. This is because these ‘pushers’ either did not have anyone to push them, also got pushed or they could simply see greatness in a growing child. Did our great- great- grandparents not say that a chick that will grow into a cock can be spotted the very day it hatches?
Togetherness, unity, oneness, bond, love and all its synonyms have been the tenets that have been associated with raising a child. However, with urbanization and others, some of these tenets have been relegated or overtaken by others.
Every now and again on social media, there are posts in praise of people who have left indelible marks on others. Some are so detailed that you feel the love and appreciation they feel. With some of the people being praised, as soon as their names are mentioned, many troop to agree with the writer that such a person has also been a strong pillar to them. Recently, Ben D. Malor shared a story of how he encouraged and went on to assist his former gate-man to go back to school. The young man did go back to University and completed with a second class upper. The young man in writing to Ben said “You have really added value to my life that no one can do except God. On that day you called me Richard…..and you told me I am so young….I should use the opportunity and go to school so that one day I will drive and pass by Cantonments and tell myself, I was once a security.” (Shared on Ben’s wall on Monday, 25th November/16:47)
On Israel Laryea’s birthday, a similar thing occurred. Someone who works under him in the newsroom recounted how helpful Israel had been to him. When Serwa Amihere, won Newscaster of the year for 2018, she was full of appreciation for her mentor, Nana Aba Anamoah.These are just a few examples of this scenario from people you may know if you are living in Ghana.
On birthdays, Mothers or Fathers days, these appreciation messages flood our timelines.
The point here is this,
- We all need a helping hand: Lend one if you are in position to do so.
- Watch what you to say to people: Our words (as leaders especially) can encourage or motivate someone. Do not kill the spirits of people with your choice of words.
- Be an example by sharing your truth (stories) with others. This tends to motivate as well.
- Do not turn down people who approach you for guidance, mentoring or advice. You are capable.
- Be a father or mother figure to people who you think will do with it. You can do this by simply checking up on them regularly.
- Toss a book that you think will motivate someone at them. Insist that they read it and return it at a set date. Books touch lives in many ways.
- Try not to turn down opportunities to speak to young people who are working to be ‘like you’.
There is a Ghanaian proverb that is translated loosely as this; “If the elders leave you a legacy of dignified language, you do not abandon it and speak childish language”. Thus, if you are a mentee, take the knowledge, advice and skills that have been imbibed in you. Do not forsake them with the thought that you now know it all. After all, even a river that is full grows.
- Mentees should allow themselves to be groomed.
- Practice the act of patience, humility and ask questions in order to know more. Do not allow the belly to make you useless.
- Wait for your opportunities and do not rush. You are not in competition with your mentors. Believe it or not, if you overtake a leader, you break your neck.
- People are not perfect so do not expect your mentor to be perfect. Forgive his/her mistakes and move on. Do not be vindictive.
- Be truthful, honest and apologetic.
- Have a cordial relationship with your mentors’ network and take counsel from them as well.
- Impact others with the knowledge you have acquired too.
- Do not have a penchant to relax when praised.
- Ingratitude is sooner or later fatal to its author so show appreciation. It does not have to be a financial appreciation but it must be done from the depth of the heart.
Where do you find yourself? Are you one who needs guidance, seek it. Buy a book written by your role model, approach them on social media.
Are you nearing retirement or are there people you believe will do better if you guide them? Send them messages, encourage them. Do you see flaws in someone that can cause them harm, guide them to change.
Together, we can put smiles on each other’s face and create a happy and sound nation irrespective of the trials we go through. It is for this reason, I guess that our forefathers left us with these proverbs:
Little by little the bird builds its nest; numbers can achieve anything.