Do you have a mentor? Someone who has already done what you are trying to do, and so is able to guide, advise and nurture you through your journey? I have many.
I sit at the feet of many great men and women who have travelled the path I’m navigating. It’s great, because it means I can learn from other people’s mistakes, and make much more informed decisions.
Being a mentor is even more fulfilling. For me, there is no better way to apply knowledge than in the teaching of others. If you know something, I believe it is an obligation – no, a duty – to share it with others.
Sadly, I’m aware that it’s not everyone in the world who shares this viewpoint.
For some people, their knowledge is what sets them apart from the crowd, and so sharing it would mean giving up their “specialness”. We all know people like this.
In school, there were teachers who cultivated the reputation for being “wicked”. They would deliberately ask questions to which they haven’t taught us the answers, and then lash us for getting it wrong.
We all know doctors who won’t answer your questions about what is wrong with your own body.
There are mechanics who tell you that you need a car part, but if you dare question them further, they will tell you to take your car away if you think they are cheating you.
Every day, we turn on our radios to hear politicians loudly criticize each other, belittling their ideas and efforts without offering any practical solutions of their own.
I’ve heard hairdressers say “You must train your apprentice well, but never teach her everything you know”.
Now, I have personally felt very strongly about this for a long time: knowledge that can’t be shared is useless.
In primary school, I took swimming lessons. All the kids my age had learnt how to swim in nursery, so I had to be the only big boy in the training pool with the first years. It was embarrassing.
Especially since there was an annoying kid from my class called Jamie Crawford, who kept walking along the pool’s edge, following me, pointing at my uncoordinated efforts, and laughing at the top of his voice.
Eventually, Mr. Simmons, our PE teacher called him over and asked what he was doing.
“Nothing,” He smirked.
“Can you swim, Jamie?” Mr Simmons asked.
“Yes”, quipped Jamie proudly.
“Then shouldn’t you be helping Kojo instead of laughing at him?” Jamie looked confused.
Mr Simmons dismissed my little tormentor, with a question thrown at his back, “If you don’t want to help, you don’t have to, but don’t take pleasure in being useless”.
That sums up my sentiment on this matter. Why take pleasure in other people’s lack of knowledge when you are in a position to educate them. Knowledge has no value if it is defined by the ignorance of others.
My friends, today, let us embrace the spirit of mentorship. If someone hadn’t taught us, how would we have gained all that knowledge that we think makes us superior? Let us share what we know, that our knowledge may grow.
Let us take pride in seeing others excel as a result of the knowledge WE gave them. Let us put our gifts to the best use possible, by sharing them with others, because refusing to impart our knowledge is the same as admitting that our knowledge is useless.
My name is Kojo Yankson, and wisdom has no value until it is shared.
GOOD MORNING, GHANAFO