Return Trip

Just like trips down memory lane, return trips sometimes “seem” faster and more pleasurable. Our brains have a way of making sense of the journey, only after the end is reached. 

Why can’t we enjoy the journey more, the first time? Our desire for the end postpones the joy of the journey and where joy is lacking, nothing worthy fills the space.

This is why mentors are important. They’ve been on the path before, they’ve seen and sometimes missed the end, but they’ve gone through the path before, even if it was in a different season. The mentoring process is a return trip for the mentor. He is getting an opportunity to go back and enjoy the journey, with company – the mentee.

The mentee, on the other hand, is given an opportunity to understand the emptiness of the end and the riches in the journey. 

Imagine going on a trip with someone that has been to where you are going and knows the stories behind each road, each town, each statue, each forest and each desert you pass. As you are soaked into the richness of your journey, the end comes a little faster and then you find yourself actively seeking out an opportunity for your own return trip – your mentee.

We do not lack mentors in the world, we lack people who know when and how to ask for help. 

I have been lucky to have quite a number of great mentors, and no, I am not talking about the formal ones forced on me by HR algorithms (apologies to my HR friends), I am talking about an unprecedented pride of leaders that I have had the good fortune of working with. 

I cannot share names in this article because I need to get permission first, but if there is one advice I can give, seek a mentor. Not because of the end, but because of the journey. 

In seeking a mentor, don’t walk up to the individual or call or send a mail saying, “Please I want you to be my mentor”. It works for the narcissistic, but it’s a red flag for the greatest mentors. If you admire the qualities of an individual, find a way to engage – share your victories and your concerns. Bring something that is not clear in your journey and when you get advice, use it and show the results – What worked? What didn’t work? Mentoring is more of a relationship than a contract. Relationships have an evolving end, contracts have a fixed end. If you want mentoring to work, nurture a relationship.

Mentors give you the benefits of a “return trip” feeling on your first trip, while ensuring your direction remains aligned to your desired end.


– Osasu Oviawe

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