Role models vs mentors
Let’s not compare the two. We actually need both of them. We need to have people whom you look up to. In Uganda, we have a lot of challenges. People just want to steal because the people they look up did not get money in the right way. They are maybe very few who have attained success in the right way. However, these are not documented. The people being documented have a lot of black spots when you try tracing how they got the money. Many entrepreneurs find unexplained gaps when they try to look up to some individuals in society. This becomes a challenge.
But if you are going to succeed, you need role models. I remember myself when I was still young. One of the tycoons in our village would come to visit his parents once a month. But every time he came, people in the village had to stop everything they were doing to listen to this guy at the trading center. I was wondering. Who is this guy? What does he do? How do I grow up to be somebody like him?
We were told that if you want to become a person like that, you must study hard, go to Makerere University and then you can qualify to get government jobs. This became my inspiration. I was looking up to this guy. I wanted to grow and also drive a car. That was my yard stick then until I grew to follow role models based on morals, integrity and leadership acumen.
If you are going to succeed, you need role models
However, a mentor is somebody who is just not a motivational speaker. Many motivational speakers need motivation themselves. A mentor is a person whom you can see has made it. He is giving you the formula of how it works. We have few people who have genuinely succeeded and are coming back to pull you up to their level. At the end of the day, that is the ultimate measure of success. How many people have you impacted in your life to the level you are?
It doesn’t mean that for one to mentor another must be exceptionally successful. As long as you came from a given level A to level B, and that success majority of the people around you don’t have it, you have something to share. You can mentor people you are better in terms of education, integrity, exposure, technology, etc.