An Ideal Mentor - Criteria and Caution

May 14, 2020

It is essential nowadays to have a resourceful person as our mentor to guide us on the right track. Modern day’s challenges are different from the past and increasing day by day reducing the parent’s interaction with the children creating a vacuum that is a perfect breeding ground for deviations, failures, depression, confusions and lifelong disasters in a few cases. To add to that, changes are very rapid in every walk of life.

To fill this vacuum, many initiatives are in place. Motivational speakers, counsellors, tutors, life coach, career guidance to name a few who are doing a good job. It is an absolute necessity of modern times to have a mentor. Most of the successful persons across different field have counsellors and psychologists at various stages. For eg Sports Psychologists. They help sustain pressure and demanding situations. Having said this, there are many as in other trades to misguide and make wrong use of the situation.

When we are spending money on this, the primary aim should be to get the desired benefits out of such initiatives. Hence, the primary goal should be selecting the right person as our mentor. There are many with colourful blogs, testimonials and claims. Basically they are good presenters but lack in basic qualities. Hence ideally, our mentor should be that person who is there where we want to be or where our mentor says we should belong to. Otherwise, the claims are false. A swimming coach cannot coach sprint athletes. A tennis coach cannot be a cricket coach. It is as simple as that.

Hence verifying the claims and selecting the right resourceful person should be the first step. We should use little analytical thinking. Do not select and spend blindly. Analysing a claim/statement helps a lot in life. Scams are rampant because we do not analyse when someone says something whether it is right or wrong, true or false. If we want to climb Mount Everest and someone comes forward saying he will lead us reach the summit we should ‘cross-check’ whether that person ever scaled Mount Everest. .If not, he is not the person we are looking for our purpose.

What is the job of a mentor in real terms? He will be the one who monitors the ‘net practice’, observes every minute error, comes up with rectification steps, sets the basics right and prepares the trainee to excel in the field. For that to happen, he must have an in-depth understanding in the domain. The quality of the mentor is a crucial ingredient in getting the desired outcome.

To understand how a person with a psychological background analyses a situation, let me explain through a scene from my NLP seminar. Just to check on my students and their progress I asked a question related to the current COVID-19 outbreak. The question was what killed so many people across the globe. A fresher’s response was, “COVID-19 virus whereas those trained before came up with different answers. One among them was outstanding in his analysis. He said, “It is the speed mankind achieved over the years that killed us, rather than the virus alone!” He could analyse very logically, considering the rate of spread and what happened after county wise, location wise quarantine. Such logical thinkers will become successful in life. Such an analysing ability comes from psychological training and reading.

In this article I would like to discuss only ordinary and individual-level approach to importance of psychological training and available options, which is NLP, Psychology and counselling. In short and simple language, psychology says we are the product of our heredity and environment. Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) counters this claim saying once we understand the drawbacks of our heredity and environment; it is ‘our responsibility to fix the shortcomings’. We cannot be the prisoner of something saying it is not in our control. NLP talks about initiatives and taking action and comes out with rectifying actions and techniques. It is a short subject compared to psychology. Those who cannot study psychology can go with NLP which is equally beneficial and a short form of psychology itself. Since it is short, it is interesting to study. It increases analytical and problem solving abilities to a great extent which is a primary requirement at the professional front.

Before finalizing on the mentor we need to understand the purpose and area of the desired changes we want for ourselves. Once this is done, we should decide who will become our mentor, whether a counsellor, a life coach (NLP / psychological trainer, motivational speaker).

The important points to be noted when we select a coach/mentor are:

Academic qualifications of the mentor:

1. Professional success; a person with different job experience reaching the top of the ladder grown from bottom rather than from a monotonous work environment.

2. Habits/hobbies of the mentor, like traveling reading writing creativity etc.

3. Age and exposure to life events, hardships encountered.

4. Professional multicultural exposure is a huge plus point.

5. A rational thinker, a good observer, religiously unbiased and a genuine leader.

There are many individuals now claiming to be in the business. A few are very young and have ‘educational qualifications’ to talk but without any work and life experience. They are good public presenters but lack in other important qualities. A few of them have blogs mentioning the testimonials. Most of the testimonials are not the true representation of the ability of the person. In a few cases, the people on the testimonial list are not even aware of it or may not exist at all. Generally, no one cross verifies before selecting a mentor. As we aware are like any other field, the educational field is also contaminated.

Titles give us capacity and very basic knowledge. What gives us command/authority is one’s success and experience, as well as maturity gained through hardships facing life events. For eg - Shah Rukh Khan and Akshay Kumar will be in a better position to explain struggles made in the film industry to reach the top from absolute ground zero, not Abhishek Bachchan or other star’s kids. One needs to earn the right to be a leader/mentor. As we all know that a pilot who had not gone past the troubled skies will be less competent as a pilot, even though he is a licensed pilot. Safety of his passengers will be at risk during the critical moments. Similarly, a mentor who has not faced/tested the troubled waters will be less impactful on sharing the views. Similarly, a person who is doing a monotonous job for years without facing the change or someone who is entering the trade directly from the university will not be effective in explaining, bracing the changes in professional/personal life.

Most people think that educational titles succeed in life. Institutional learning to succeed we need better cognitive skills. Then only we can succeed in critical decision making moments. It is these skills that make the difference between an average, good and outstanding employee which is an ongoing selection criteria for any job since there are countless candidates. If your analytical and problem-solving abilities are not checked by your employer during the interview then you are not at the right place.

Innovation and creativity is key to success. How to modify programmes away from textbooks and make those work under real-life situations is also a skill needed for a mentor to guide the aspirants properly keeping the basic concept intact. It is an art. We all know what we study in school and practice at the work environment is not incongruent. Schooling is to provide us rational ability rather than grades. Sadly, this is forgotten and hence we are paying dearly in life. Degrees/schooling do not test and uncover our potential, rather, they test their agenda of scoring. Go to college, finish degree and get a job mantra is not going to work anymore. It is already outdated. That is why there is huge unemployment.

NLP/psychology/counselling helps to understand and solve critical, pressurizing situations from different angles altogether. Our success rests on the quality of the mentor we select.

Most of us fail to connect to the basic education, needs at employment, right thoughts, our potential and drawbacks at the right age and time. When we realize, it is late and suffering will become a part of our life by then. Only when the college ends we see the struggle and realize what we missed when studying. It is because we fail to notice others’ graph of ascent or descent and learn from it in time. Few months of unemployment and empty pocket lead to depression. Guidance from a resourceful person can override all these shortcomings effectively if we reach him on time. Behind every reason, why there is no job, loss of a job, no salary, no increments, fear to change the job and preferring to lead a monotonous life lies only one answer, our inability to take action. What we do with our inability and when decides our
success and failure. A confident person who has prepared well does not complain about anything because he knows what he has. Nothing can stop him easily. He will succeed in creating a path for himself.

The delayed decisions today are a reason for worry tomorrow not the situations. Do not look for an easy life when young. Develop the capacity to make decisions ahead of time for a better tomorrow. Spend a little money to get rid of your drawbacks. Keep learning and concentrate on self-improvement in the initial years along with graduation so that when you finish and come out you are confident and prepared. Understand that in the 8 hours job we do at least half of the time we spend over connecting people, maintaining relationships, talking to superiors, presenting to clients etc that test our cognitive abilities, skills to impact someone rather than technical skills alone.

Those who study cognitive skills will be better prepared over others in any life situation. Always remember mental strength and fitness is the vital parameter for our success.

To get selected and perform we have to get the chance first. That rests on us how well we are prepared to face testing times. To survive and succeed, we need to keep evolving. Be prepared for a better tomorrow.



By Vincent D’Sa; Dubai. Pangala parish, Shankarpura
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Comment on this article

  • Steven, Muscat

    Fri, May 15 2020

    very informative article. Need of the hour. Vast majority of the people do not cross check credentials of the person and waste money. I have attended a few motivational talks. They just glorify already known things by the way of presentation skills rather than sharing any new knowledge. Use a few rhyming words and disappear. Good article indeed.

  • Narinder Singh, India

    Thu, May 14 2020

    An exceptionally outstanding well written thoughts which is indeed a need of the hour for one and all. Looking forward for such articles in future too. Thanks for enlightening us.
    Warm regards!
    Narinder Singh

  • Jha, Philippines / Sharjah

    Thu, May 14 2020

    Well written article! Mentorship should be considered since it is very significant at this present times. For whatever the reason a person decides to do or interested with, needs to be continously fed and nurtured. With the right mentor, you can cultivate your leadership ability, have more tools / knowledge when making strategic decisions that will give you an edge and make you a strong competitor in this fast paced changing world. Thanks for this realization, Mr. Vincent! KEEP ON WRITING....

  • Melvin, Dubai

    Thu, May 14 2020

    Excellent writing. I am a regular reader of your articles. This is one of the best and eye opener.

  • Dr. Rohan Colaco, Ph.D., Mangalore

    Thu, May 14 2020

    Excellent writing. Top notch. Very inspiring for anyone reading. Yeah it is very important to have a good guide , be analytical and forward thinking. Some are not fortunate enough to have a mentor and learn by trial and error but can always be a guide to others. Finally its destiny that will prevail but we have to play our part with all the resources and information at hand in a particular time in our lives.

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