We all look for mentors or guides through every stage of our career. Whether we are a student or a professional or an entrepreneur, we need someone to tell us what we are doing is right or not.
But how much guidance is enough? Does it aids the entire process of our actions and thoughts or hinders our belief in what we do. As the adage goes that too much of everything is bad, too much of mentoring can also harm your ability to think or worse can dampen your self-confidence in ways you wouldn’t even be aware of. However I am not denying the possibilities mentoring brings with it – someone who does not protect, but makes you aware of the pit falls you will find on your way and guide you on how better a particular idea or project can be executed.
Who you choose as a mentor is also very important. A mentor cannot be someone who does not have clarity of his own thoughts. The last thing you want on earth is to knock at someone’s door who himself is not home! A mentor who is indecisive can never help you take a decision. At times mentor’s who have plethora of options are also not good. E.g. I go to an ice cream parlor and ask the man on the counter that I feel like eating an ice cream which one should I go for. Imagine the candy man telling me about the range of ice cream’s that exist in the world and how one is better than another, how they differ by size, flavor, texture, color and the way it is processed. I guess either I would just buy a plain vanilla ice cream or give up the entire idea of eating ice cream itself! I would love to have a mentor who does not tell me what to do but help me develop my own options and then help me clear this big black cloud of confusion in my head so that I can see that one idea that shines as the possible decision.
When we rely too much on mentors or guides, we at times lose the ability to take decision ourselves. I realized this while working on one of the projects recently. Right from the start of this project I was dependent on my manager to guide me through the next steps, I did not even realize when for every single decision, phone call, meeting, document preparation I looked for his approval. And by the time it was time to wrap up the project I felt I have done nothing or contributed nothing except behaving like a machine taking orders. Yes, I had stopped thinking. And when my manager asked me what could have made the project better I had no answer. Because all this while I took too much of guidance which blocked my ability to think.
Having a good and balanced mentor is a boon (I am still looking for one). But you are better off without any guidance – yes all on your own, out in the dark jungle, if you are among those who would follow your mentor or guide’s instruction so blindly that you will lose sight of your own goal.