“You need to get a mentor.” Stella insisted on this for the better part of 2017.
I am a stubborn being at times and it can take time and effort- or bullying- for me to be fully convinced on certain issues. We were in a matatu with Stella when her mentor, Ms. Caren Wakoli called. They had a chat before Caren requested to speak to me since we had previously met in a few forums. Knowing how bubbly and warm Caren is, I was excited to talk to her and get to hear how she was fairing.
A mentee must always find a way of being of help/ contributing to the mentor
Little did I know, my ‘bullying’ moment had brought itself closer, in a warm way. “Cate, when are you applying to join Emerging Leaders Foundation?” Caren asked.
I took a little giggle and responded that I would join soon after I had my finances in order. She was not about to take that non- committal answer. “I will be waiting for your application for the next cohort which starts in January and I will not take anything less.”
Oh my! I was cornered! I have so much respect for her and I could not say no. That is how I found myself as part of ELF Cohort 5 where I met my current mentor, Ms. Zippy Musyimi. My life has not been the same ever since. After the leadership training, I asked to be paired with her as my mentor. Ms. Zippy honoured my request and took me under her wings.
It has been a journey of success. A wise lady once told me that for mentorship to work, it must be personal and intentional. My first meeting with Zippy was casual. She invited me for tea where we got to know each other. We set goals for our journey, and wrote down our expectations. By the time we were done, I had learned so much from her and about her and got to experience her comic side.
It has been more than fourteen months now and we are still counting. We have become friends. Three things that I took from my journey with her:
- As a mentor, you are called to be a consultant for your mentee, a counsellor and a cheerleader.
She has led our discussions from the front and from a point of knowledge. This came so automatically. She has paved the way for me and does not hold back information that she thinks will benefit me at any point. She has listened to my rants, shrunk them and walked me down the path of finding solutions. Sometimes administering small doses of painful lessons. At the end of it all, she has been a great cheerleader.
- As a mentee, you MUST ensure that there is reverse mentorship.
Just like any other interaction, if the two of you are not gaining then there is a parasite. A mentee must always find a way of being of help/ contributing to the mentor – no matter how irrelevant it may seem to be. This helps boost your mentor’s energy to continue offering counsel and contributes to their growth as well. At the end of it all, mentorship is two-way.
- Discipline, Commitment and Fun.
Discipline and commitment to follow through with the plans that both of you have laid down is non-negotiable. Mentorship for me is like any other relationship. It is two way. Both parties must play their part, it must feel right. And while at it, please have some fun! Laugh a little, digress a little from all the serious business, meet for coffee just to catch up, after corona go for a dance…and all will be well 😊
Catherine Njeri Gathuru, Cohort 5