KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE
When we are surrounded as never before by information-bearing technology why should we need mentors? The short answer is because we are high touch not high tech species. We are social beings finding meaning through human contact and shared experiences.
Yet we live in complex post-industrial societies where the human element seems paradoxically misplaced. Our institutions are focused on short-term results where the human element seems sometimes left out of the equation altogether. Our workplaces leave few spaces for reflection and the sharing of institutional memories and experience. Our nurturing for the future of those with vitally necessary leadership qualities is most usually random, unsystematic, poorly prioritized or off the organizational agenda altogether.
We live and work short-focused on the immediate; widening our perspective perhaps rarely, to incorporate the experiences of others beyond our private world of close family, work colleagues and friends. We live often indeed, and at our worst, as if we were with all our joys and sorrows and difficulties and triumphs and self-preoccupations, the first generation on this planet. We live in what has been dubbed the Age of Anxiety.
Ancient cultures have taken a rather different view to that of our post-industrial perspectives. They understand that what was true and useful for past lives can also be immensely relevant to present ones; that wisdom can come from those who have lived a lot, suffered some and learnt to rise again. And that such wisdom has profound value and contemporary utility.
This ability to listen to the voices of experience and wisdom and then choose what is of use and what is not in one's own life lies at the heart of the contemporary mentoring process. In the words of 16th century French humanist philosopher, Michel de Montaigne, in his essay 'On Experience':
'No desire is more natural than the desire for knowledge. We assay all the means that can lead us to it. When reason fails us we make use of experience. Experience is a weaker and less dignified means: but truth is so great a matter that we must not disdain any method which leads us to it.'
'Just a short note to thank you for the workshop you conducted with the CEO Institute. and the presentation itself, which was extremely well received by our members. The average rating given by members was 9 out of 10. With your permission we will contact you again in the future (for more presentations to our members)'. Robyn Dowsing Member Services Administrator (NSW), CEO Institute.