“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in
your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create
– Steven Spielberg
The concept of mentorship has long been studied and used around the world.
It traces back its history from Homer’s classic poem, “The Odyssey” where the idea of a pupil being trained by a more experienced colleague began.
Today, mentorship is used mainly in business where the need for a good mentoring relationship is essential in the efficiency of an organization. In fact, a lot of successful people give most of the credit to their mentors.
Mentorship: A little story in history
In “The Odyssey” written around 800 BCE, Homer talks about an event that happened in 1200 BCE when Odysseus, the king of Ithaca and main character of the story was preparing to leave for Troy.
To make sure that someone would look after his son Telemachus, Odysseus appointed a person to be his son’s advisor, teacher and friend during his absence. He named this person “Mentor” and it’s where the name began.
In its essence, mentorship is defined as a relationship where a more knowledgeable or experienced person guides someone with lesser knowledge or experience.
It doesn’t matter if a mentor is older or younger than his mentee. As long as he has the expertise for a certain area, he can build a learning partnership with someone who wants to gain his knowledge and skills.
The benefits of mentorship
Mentorship has long been considered one of the most effective tools for career development and business success. During the mentor relationship, a mentee is introduced to new ideas and ways of thinking.
He is also given guidance on the right professional path to take and how to develop his strengths while overcoming his weaknesses. A mentee is also given the opportunity to further his expertise where he has better chances at being recognized by his organization.
But mentorship doesn’t only benefit the mentee. Entrepreneurs who invest in mentoring programs also benefit from improving their leadership skills, boost the morale of their team, share their desired goals for the organization and build a culture of professional and personal growth.
Mentors and their successful mentees
It’s not uncommon for successful entrepreneurs and personalities to give credit to their mentors. A famous example would be Oprah Winfrey who always talks about how her mentor Maya Angelou has given her advice and stayed with her throughout the most important times in her life.
In fact, Angelou has been credited for most of Oprah’s success in television including the establishment of her own see.
Thomas Jefferson is also another popular personality who credits his mentor George Mason, a lesser-known name for his greatest accomplishments.
Mason reportedly helped provide the right environment for Jefferson to create the Declaration of Independence, which has significantly shaped present America.
With successful mentorships come an indefinite cycle of giving back. Sir Richard Branson is the perfect example of this where he has credited his mentors, especially Sir Freddie Laker who gave him advice that brought Virgin Atlantic Airlines huge success.
Today, Branson is behind “Pitch to Rich,” a mentoring program that helps people to create business ideas that stand out.