Mentorship? Ask the Ants! (11)

Life is a journey that we have never been on. It is full of twists and turns that we are not always familiar with. Life is like a river which they say you never step into the same one twice because it keeps flowing; after all, we all have only one life to live. As unpredictable as life is, however, it leaves in its wake lessons and patterns. In the words of Steve Jobs, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards”. Lessons are only learnt looking backwards. The only validated lessons are from the past.

Where does that leave us in our drive for success? Does it mean we must suffer the consequences of poor choices before we learn? No! Life is indeed a journey, but we are not the first travellers. Though we have different paths in life, there are some people who have gone ahead treading similar paths, whose experiences and wisdom can be invaluable. According to Sir Isaac Newton, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulder of Giants”. If your desire is to claim 100% credit for your success, your ego will hold your success captive. There are great people who will gladly pour out their hearts to you if only you are humble enough to ask.

There is a saying that “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”. I believe that in a world where people are trying to prove how much they know, we must redefine our values and start to realise how much we need to know. Mentors are people who have seen, experienced and learnt valuable lessons that can help sharpen our focus and channel our strengths. Les Brown says, “You can’t see a picture when you are in the frame”. You need someone who sees things in you that you don’t believe exist. Some benefits of mentorship can be learnt from the ants:

  1. The guidance: when a scout ant finds food, it takes some back to the colony to recruit others. The other ants submit themselves to the leadership of the scout to guide them not only because it knows the way but also because it has proof.
  2. Staying in touch: tandem running is a phenomenon in which a follower ant maintains contact with the ant leading to food or a new nest by touching the leader’s legs and abdomen with its antennae. This connectivity ensures that the follower is not lost and in the event that they are scattered by a predator, they are able to quickly reconnect. Mentorship is a process of continuous connectivity and not just an action.