By Revival Ojedapo
Like many writers out there, I find Williams Shakespeare an inspiring figure. His works have been a great source of inspiration, and I could easily regard him as a role model. Looking at his achievements, he appears to be an example to follow, even for many generations after him. He never gave me a personal advice, neither could I have gotten a direct tutoring from him. However, on those days when I feel like an inadequate, I can almost hear the voice of encouragement from the old visionary himself, saying: “our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt”.
I’m trying to paint a picture of how you can be inspired by your role models. They don’t have to be there with you to help you make exploit. When it occured to me that there was a distinction between a role model and a mentor, I realized that I had need for one as much as the other. Fortunately, it is possible to find both qualities in a single person; that is, my mentor could also be my role model. It could also be vice versa, if your role model is very much alive.
Growing up, my parents gave me all the encouragement I needed to pursue my goals. At school, I had teachers that never shied away from giving me guidance. There were many great authors to look up to as I nursed the desire to become a writer. During those years, the line between mentors and role models was blurred, so much that I never really felt I was lacking any. However, when you leave home to try and establish yourself, you can see yourself searching for new inspiration and guide.
Building a successful career in any field is a difficult task, and many people tend to give up before they can achieve this. You may have all it takes to begin, but going all the way will require a constant rekindling of your initial zeal. Plutarch correctly posits that “the mind is a fire to be kindled”. Fires do burn out, and you might need help during the dark intervals. It is in those times that having a mentor becomes indispensable. But you can’t just rush out and find yourself one.
Mentoring has to be built on a relationship of mutual respect. So, going into your career, you should find someone who’s already made headways. The importance of having a mentor is well encapsulated by John C. Maxwell, when he says: “one of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination”.
The truth is we all have role models, even if we never get to meet them. Sometimes, we admire people so much, we don’t even realize how much they influence our lives. Having a career mentor can also help you transform this admiration into something productive.
“Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living—if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.” — Denzel Washington