Time 7:00 PM, Friday: A couple of weeks ago on Rajiv’s long drive back from office. The phone rang and the caller’s name popped up on the display on the car video - “Satish Sharma Calling”. “What a pleasant surprise!” Rajiv said to himself. Sharma was Rajiv’s friend of 25 years. Sharma knew Rajiv’s schedule and he would seldom call him at a time he knew Rajiv would be driving home unless it was something urgent that called for immediate attention. Being a stickler for rules (especially the driving ones), Rajiv slowed his car and waited for it to come to a complete halt.
“Hello Satish, what’s up mate? All well?” said Rajiv.
“Rajiv, can you come over to my office tomorrow? How are you placed for an early breakfast?”.
“You know Satish, my Saturdays are generally free. Sounds good, but why so suddenly… anything serious?” replied Rajiv.
“Not really but it’s about my son Akshay. I want to discuss something with you. It is nothing serious but definitely important”, said Satish with an urgent tone.
Next morning Rajiv and Sharma met at their favorite cafe. After the usual pleasantries Sharma came to the point directly.
“You know Akshay is twenty-three. He has just finished B-School from the US. He’s my only son and he has to step into my shoes someday and handle the business. And he needs help.”
“But I thought he’s doing very well and good grades - so what kind of help does he need?” replied Rajiv.
Satish said in a very matter of fact manner, “He needs a Mentor.”
Rajiv was impressed. This self-made businessman was successful yet not very educated. He had never been exposed to corporate culture and training programs. Yet he was serious about a Mentor for his son who was about to step into the real world was very creditable.
“Satish! Are you really serious? You know what it means, don’t you?”.
“Yes, I am dead serious. And more importantly I want you to be his mentor. Will you? Please!”.
“This is interesting”, Rajiv said to himself, “Well it depends on a lot of things. Most importantly – Akshay as he should agree to be mentored.” Satish confirmed, “Well I did have a talk with him about it. He is looking forward to it. You know how he looks up to you and values your advice more than mine. You know he adulates you so much. I can’t think of anyone who could do this better.”
The qualifiers for a mentor – mentee relationship were well established for Rajiv-Akshay:
Akshay had the desire to be mentored
The desire to be mentored has to come from within the mentee. It’s not a generic enrolment program. He should see it a part of the learning process.
Rajiv was a dedicated mentor
The mentor should be a person of integrity, knowledge, and dedication. He should be a good listener and willing to share experiences from his work life journey. Most importantly – he should enjoy coaching and willing to dedicate time towards his subject.
Mentoring is not a one-way traffic. Both the Mentor and Mentee are beneficiaries in the journey as the gains are reciprocal. The journey had just begun for both Akshay and Rajiv.
About the Author: Raj works for a leading IT Company and firmly believes in the maxim “Pay it forward”. Music, travel and understanding new cultures are his pastimes.
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