All great mentors draw on their experience and common sense when confronted by those that haven’t yet wised up.
I was lucky enough to be in Cardiff when Munster won their won their 2nd Heineken cup in 2008. During the after match celebrations in Bristol one of the younger Munster fans got involved in a minor fracas with some locals. A group of somewhat older Munster supporters intervened, told the young guy to ‘cop himself on’ and quickly hauled him away. While understanding his frustrations at being provoked, they reminded him of his responsibilities as a Munster fan.
These more experienced fans had travelled all over Europe supporting Munster for more than a decade and had seen it all. They were teaching the new guy ‘the ropes’ and didn’t want this new member of the ‘Munster Army’ to ruin what was a fabulous day for all Munster fans. They showed him the Munster way.
The behaviours of these Munster fans are typical of great mentors:
1. Self-confidence – able to deal with whatever comes up in the conversation, happy in the knowledge that their experience will allow them to facilitate an appropriate approach to any issue emerging
2. Empathy – recognising what their protégé is feeling and acknowledging frustrations while suggesting an alternative way of looking at the situation
3. Self-control – staying calm, not being irritated by impetuous attitudes even if there is a generational gap
4. Analytical thinking– able to keep the ‘big picture’ in mind, while at the same time diagnosing the root cause of the issue on hand
5. Cultural awareness – knowing how ‘things are done around here’, explaining the unwritten rules and the behaviours expected of membership of a new network