From being guided to guiding others, mentors have come a long way in their respective careers and now successfully mentor new-age entrepreneurs who would too, pass on the same information as mentors one day.
It is true that life eventually comes to a full circle and eventually one day, it comes to a point where it all started. As a budding young person, one naturally looks for guidance and direction and the courage and confidence to move forward while stepping into the future.
I recall when I was a teenager; I loved reading biographies of great leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru and John F. Kennedy, to get an insight into the philosophy and thinking of these popular and powerful personalities. They were really a big influence in my outlook of life and my decision making process in those days.
Today, I enjoy being a mentor to others, at a personal level on a one to one basis, and feel deeply satisfied , that by this individual interaction, l am helping improve the lives of others and paying back what life has blessed me with.
I believe that by mentoring, I am expressing my gratefulness to the Lord and giving and sharing what I have learnt all my life. It is really a great joy when a colleague, contact, friend, employee or a family member accepts one as a mentor. That person is then bestowing upon the mentor his/her trust that the mentor can make a difference in the life of that person.
A mentor need not be an elderly person. I remember when I was going through graduation at university, I had my younger cousins who looked up to me for direction and guidance. I was fortunate that I was able to use my skills, knowledge and experience at that stage of my life to assist them in their academic path.
I remember in 1973, when I moved to London from Nigeria, to help diversify the family business, my Dad who was still living in Nigeria, introduced me to one of his dear friends, then based in London. He assured me that as long as I kept close to this “Uncle” ( as we are used to referring to our elders), and followed his advice, I would never go astray and would soon start tasting success and this proved so true.
That “uncle” became my guide and a mentor, as I referred to him for all types of advice, not only on business and finance management, but even on personal matters whenever I needed any guidance. He always gave me logical and rational solutions, whenever I was in a dilemma. This relationship combined with trust and love lasted for over 30 years – as long as “uncle” was alive.
Most importantly, I was taught that as long as one is honest, truthful, positive, enthusiastic and passionate, nothing is impossible. Today, as I look back on all his valuable advice and guidance, I see that, as the foundation of my overall success and my reputation in the society. In a similar way, I am passing on my experiences and words of wisdom to the next generations, i.e. my two sons, my nieces, my grandchildren and also to any other family members who would like to bounce their thoughts and ideas off me. I see myself as helping them sculpting ideas and helping them think beyond what they have already thought. It gives me immense pleasure in showing them more clarity, as they look at the road ahead.
Besides giving them suggestions on what to do, more importantly, I find myself giving advice based on, what not to do also. So they have a reference guide of “do and don’ts, based on my successes and the mistakes I made learning and growing in my younger days. My main aim is to make their lives simpler, their relationships better, and their progress faster by giving them sound career and business suggestions.
For each of us at various stages of life, if one is fortunate, one receives support from a happy career related association. I believe that mentors transcend careers. You need mentors are your turning points, telling you where to take the next turn, where to push harder, when to test the people and also show you how to understand yourself and find your soul.
Success in life requires determination, exploration, self reliance and a strong will. The secret is to live your life while watching the lives of other truly successful people. From then, you will learn that you can certainly do, what you want to do. You just got to work at it. Mentors give you the confidence to go out and put your heart and soul into reaching your goals, by helping you discover that you have a heart and a soul to give.
Finally, the simplest and most important lesson I would like to share is:
Laughter is the best medicine. Like many of those who have gone through the inevitable tragedies and adversities, you have to know how to handle life’s ups and downs. Approach living, with wisdom, never forgetting to laugh when life calls for laughter, even if you are laughing at yourself.