I mentioned the benefits of Apprenticeships in the previous posting. Apprenticeships are a highly effective way to learn, often in a specific workplace setting. However, while apprenticeships are a great way to learn in an adult-style, relevant, and personalized approach, they can’t work for everyone, and especially not for those who are past their school years. But there is an alternative, and it is Mentoring. Though Mentoring is currently rarely used outside professional development within business and industy, mentoring can be for everyone.
Similar to an apprenticeship-style of learning, mentoring is one-on-one, with information transferred from the Mentor to the Mentee in a customized fashion. Only what is needed now, at this time and place, is provided. This makes the learning highly retained, relevant, and useful for the Mentee. Many highly successful people, such as Donald Trump, have noted how their experiences being mentored by others was a large reason for their success. While typical classroom style learning is a one-way process, with the teacher deciding how and what is taught, mentoring is a two-way process. Both the Mentor and the Mentee agree on what is taught and how it is taught. For mentorships to work properly, both the Mentor and the Mentee have to be highly motivated, have a similar outlook on the content to be taught, and be compatible on a personal level.
In regards to learning through life, a person’s future may bring many mentors. Be open to any person you admire, who has skills you would like to emulate, both inside and outside the workplace. Consider asking them to be your mentor. Or, if you have skills that would benefit others, consider being a mentor yourself. Make sure to always have a tangible goal for what is to be learned. The mentoring relationship may be short-term or long-term. It may not always be successful, but it is one way to be in control of our own learning.
Classroom learning will always provide us with valuable information, but it will also provide as with much un-valuable information as well. Who has time for that? When we choose our mentors according to our needs at the moment, we can learn what we most want to learn in the most efficient way — from someone who has already obtained the very abilities we are looking for.