You don’t see many people learning to shoe horses at their daddy’s knee these days, or to can peaches in granny’s parlour.
We used to be a culture of apprenticeship. Now we just watch The Apprentice on TV. (How did Donald Trump gets his hair to go like that? Possibly he apprenticed to an alpaca.)
This is a shame, because the apprentice-master relationship was fantastically beneficial to both sides. The student got intensive one-on-one coaching in the finer points of the discipline, and the teacher got a meaningful sense of passing that hard-won knowledge on to someone who could, with luck, develop it even further, in a future the teacher will never live to see. Win-win. As they say.
Fortunately, Toastmasters still believes in mentors, and mentees, and the good things that happen when faucet meets sponge.
VanCore’s mentorship program is now ripping along. New members can choose to be paired with a veteran who will guide them through their first three manual speeches.
This week Renee devoted her speech to the idea of mentoring, of what it takes to be a mentor.
A mentor is not quite a friend. A friend concentrates on being there for you – making you laugh, think, and feel brave enough to ask that guy out – today. A mentor is invested in the person you will be tomorrow, when your potential blooms. A mentor, as Renee put it, “takes a special interest in the next steps.” If a friend encourages (and what good friend doesn’t?), a mentor guides.
Would you make a good mentor?
Renee looked around the table. “Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 5,” she said. “To what extent do you understand the aspirations and the ambitions of those around you?” Mentorship, you could say, is an exercise in empathy. It’s one thing to teach someone to do what you do. The next level to figure out what it is that person hopes to do and to be, and help them get there on their own terms.
Now that’s a useful skill.