Mentoring vs Molding

Posted on April 22, 2008 @ 04:36 journal

One of the underlying themes I noticed at ALT.NET was that there were a lot of people their, like myself, who were yearning for good mentoring. They wanted to be part of teams that had "senior" developers that could lead them, and push them to grow.

We all seek guidance, some of use are privileged to be guided by others and learn from the shared experience and some of us pave our own paths. 

There is a very fine line between mentoring and molding, one that I think is important to distinguish. To be truly mentored by someone, means that your mentor will be able to offer you challenges that push you outside of comfort zone without telling you how. Your mentor should challenge you to be great, not tell you how it's done! A good mentor will empower you, and teach you how to think, not what to think. A good mentor knows how to learn just as much from you, as he knows how to teach you.

When you're being molded, you're shown how you're expected to do things. A blind mentor may do this to gain a sense of control, but in the process fails to trigger new ideas in those around them. This benefits no one. Not only is the mentor not gaining from allowing the protege from being creative and allowing new ideas to trigger greater ones, but the blind mentor locks his/herself down to only their own ideas and does not allow themselves to open up to change and trigger new ideas.

I'm sure mentoring is a tough thing, no one wants to wear the "Hi I'm your mentor" name tag. But perhaps there are mentors all around us. If we were to look at those around us more closely, and tried to understand what it is that each person can teach us, then you're surrounded by mentors. Everyone has something that they can teach you, the toughest part is trying to find out what that is.

"In any journey it is helpful to have a guide, someone who can help us in times of difficulty. Often, we do not venture forth due to fear. A good guide, a teacher, quells our fear and gives us confidence during our journey. An old Indian adage says: "When the student is ready, the teacher appears." Sri Chinmoy has a beautiful poem that talks about this journey."

You have a multitude of questions,
But there is only one answer:
The road is right in front of you,
And the guide is waiting for you.