One kid in our office was expressing some negative thoughts, or so I thought. Went to my archives and sent him a note on positive thoughts, and positive behavior. In fact wanted to send him the example from ‘The Secret’ but did not have a soft copy. The gist was if you keep saying something, it will happen.

He called me and said ‘Are you becoming (or trying to become) my mentor?’.

I suddenly realised that people use words like ‘mentor’ quite easily without giving the importance for the word.

Will I take the role of a mentor to ANYBODY? Well the answer is yes, provided the following conditions are fulfilled:

1. The person who wants me to be a mentor should approach me. This means not his father, mother, wife, girlfriend, doctor….THE PERSON HIMSELF.

2. It should be for a specific portion of the person’s life – not a life mentor. Only you can control your life.

3. The engagement has to be in writing, and I will draft the terms.

4. In this area that person should listen only to me, and any change should be after a discussion.

5. It will be operational only on a fee paying  basis. Payable in advance.

Why such terms?

Well my grandmother used to say …’My ear does not hear if I ask it to hear, my eye does not see if I ask it to see, my legs do not run if I ask them to run….if things born with me do not listen to me, why should I expect people born after me to listen to me?’

Continuing the same philosophy..I do think the natural tendency of a person is ‘not to listen to me’ because I do not hold an ‘official position’ over him/her. So if there is to be a change in behavior, that person has to tell me..he/she wants some change and a strategy has to be drawn. All this is painful for the person – and for me.

I refuse to go through pain without being paid. Not sure if you agree, but friend I cannot be your mentor, unless YOU want me to and are willing to pay me for the same.

However I will keep recommending articles, books, things to do,….that is NOT MENTORING..it is just FORMATIVE feedback. The responsibility for change is still with you.

For forcing a change, there will be a fee.

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  1. Mentors play a big role in academic research. Most people forget:

    “2. It should be for a specific portion of the person’s life – not a life mentor. Only you can control your life”.

    Every mentor-protege relationship has a shelf life. Its best to realize it before it goes stale. If the mentor realizes it first there is a good chance the relationship will survive beyond the mentoring! Doesn’t happen often though!

    Nice article. Thank you.

  2. Most mentors get too much into the mentee’s life. Some of them try to live their own lives and ambitions through the kid’s life! In some cases it causes so much friction that it ends up in a fight. Life is not easy! Especially in an academic situation – what happens if you recommend books and the student refuses to read it?…these are all difficult to answer at the beginning…

  3. Subra,

    Good thought. I have always believed in mentoring. But in this particular occasion, what you have mentioned is a professional help.

    I hire a fitness trainer. He gives me a fitness schedule. A diet plan. When ever I stray away from my objective, he gives suggestions and opinions. Now, I did not know the trainer before starting a session with him. He takes me near the pond, but ultimately he cannot make me drink. It is up to me to drink 🙂 For showing me the pond he charges fees. If I have to proclaim him as fair to the fees he gets, he should give all the information within his professional capability. I can go on…

    Now, mentoring, according to me happens, only when I know some one prior and the effectiveness increases based on how much I know some one 🙂 Mentoring is about ADVICE not OPINION (Advices comes from a bond beyond professional attachment…but opinions can be given by anyone) My Sanskrit teacher was my mentor. He worked for salary in school and as a consequence he had to take classes for us. But for me, he was a mentor and most of the others he was just a teacher…in fact a good teacher…

    Happy Diwali…

    Thanks
    Srini

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