Mentors, Communication and Leadership

There is no doubt that Kashmir has produced some good leaders in the last seventy years but our nation has been unable to produce a great leader who can channel the potential of his generation, and unite the people.

During school days, students can easily approach their teachers and ask questions related to anything they want to; and as curiosity level is high among school children they tend to ask questions more often. With time this curiosity decreases and during high school and college, the amount of questions a student asks is very low. Keeping in view the ‘cause and effect theory’, this attitude of high school and college students must have a reason behind it too.

From the very beginning students are told their academic life will be much easier after 10th class; why? That reason is yet to be known. The reason we can come up with after analyzing the situation and the history about the subject is, the communication between a student and a teacher is very less or almost negligible in high school and college, resulting in a student learning very less about what he should learn about.

That effect of ‘lack of communication’ can be hardly noticed in the student life and an individual starts to observe that effect during his professional life, when he literally has no one to approach and put forward his quarries to.

Everyone is not lucky enough to have a down to earth, approachable mentor in their professional life and thus, in Kashmir we don’t see many people excel; or I should say achieve success in their professional life. Hence an individual stays at the same level of professionalism where he started or maybe a slightly high, resulting in the continuation of this ‘cycle of deprivation’.

As a primary school, high school, and college student I was never shy to ask questions, and even now in my professional life, I ask many questions. This is a blessing of Allah upon me to grow under the guidance of mentors who whenever approached for a query would never hesitate to first listen calmly and then answer, not only answer but made me understand the entire issue.

Our nation has been overtaken by jealousy and hatred, we don’t want to teach others what we know, because we think they might take our place of “leadership” and gain respect among people.

During the 4th semester of my college, I joined the Greater Kashmir’s Jammu bureau and started my internship in the Urdu edition of the paper Kashmir Uzma. Riyaz Malik was the resident editor of the Jammu bureau that time; and also my mentor.

We had detailed conversations on a daily basis, some during the work and some after. I once asked him “Sir, why are you always so approachable and ready to answer my queries,” to which he replied “I try to be the best mentor. The day you take my position, I will be on a much higher level. So teaching you won’t affect me in any adverse way.” Since that day I have thought about this statement many times and tried to reflect on it as seriously as possible.

When a mentor is not interested in his student, they lack communication which results in zero transformation of information between the two, wasting the potential of an individual.

The idea of the world and the people who have high ranks in that individual’s mind is bad enough to de-motivate him. A mentor, when ignoring his student is not aware about the consequences of his actions. In a nutshell, he is switching off the brain of his student and in most of the cases pushing him into mental trauma. I am saying this out of persona experience because I have been in a similar situation. But it’s not always about answering the queries and making the student understand. Sometimes even a pat on the back would encourage a student to do amazing things.

I will put a recent example here. The op-ed editor of a newspaper appreciated me for a piece of mine and it won’t be an exaggeration to say that till now that thing has uplifted me to great heights and what better would be there for an individual who believes in himself.

I write what I experience and go through, so I will mention another example here. Recently I asked my editor if I could sit with him and learn to write copies, he didn’t just allow me to sit besides him but also taught and made me understand sentence after sentence. Doing this didn’t decrease him in any manner but my respect for him only increased and now whenever I file a story, prayers come out from my heart for him.

I have talked to students of various fields before writing this piece and have realized that “mentor student communication problem” is present everywhere and that is why we as a nation have been only able to produce good leaders, but not great leaders.

Leaders are the shepherds of the nation and when a shepherd decides to ignore his flock, the flock tends to go in the wrong direction and if they are left like that for too long, they completely lose their way and never return back.

Yes, there is no doubt that people holding good positions in any field are often very busy, but taking only ten minutes of one’s schedule and spending it with students/juniors will fill the void in one’s heart.