What does it mean to be a mentor?
Webster’s defines a mentor as “someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person”. That’s a great starting point but doesn’t really give the whole story. Mentoring is more than just telling someone what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. We have become a people where mistakes are looked down upon and failure is not an option. That may be true in war, as we often see the statement used, but in life failure is how you gain experience and wisdom. People need to make mistakes to grow.
How do you let someone make mistakes and still protect them?
It’s not an easy task. You have to give the person the tools to make better decisions and then let them choose. Guide them to training classes for the riding skills they need. Show them why gear is important to wear. Don’t try to bully or scare them. Another human trait is the desire to not do what we are told. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. You can make sure it’s thirsty before you get there so it drinks on its own.
Can I be a good mentor?
This is a hard question to answer. Whatever you think about riding, learning, and safety is what you will teach them. Words are great, actions are better. If you talk about ATGATT and only wear a leather vest, jeans, and a half helmet you are teaching those items are ATGATT. Much like a small child learning what their parents do, the person you mentor looks to you to show them as well as tell them what safe and good looks like.
You can’t save people from everything that may happen. You can prepare them for when things possibly go wrong.
I mentor multiple riders who are younger and less experienced. One of these riders had an accident a few months ago. We are still working on him wearing all of the correct gear. While I am his mentor his friends are riders who don’t wear the proper gear and he wants to fit in. I did manage to get him to take riders training but it left some gaps in his skill set. Somewhere he had gotten it into his head to pull the clutch in when cornering.
That on bad tendency is what caused his accident. While exiting an off ramp he pulled the clutch in. The front wheel ran over some gravel and got loose, not enough to fall but enough to give a butt pucker moment. When the rear wheel hit the gravel he panicked and let the clutch out. This sudden addition of engine torque breaking caused the rear wheel to lock up and a low side.
Thankfully the rider was OK and the bike was fixed. The great thing about this story is that as soon as he was able to he came and saw me as his mentor. We were able to diagnose what happened in his accident and formulate a plan.
I want to point out it wasn’t me as his mentor that did that training. Too close to the person to give that level of instruction and have it stick. Proper training was required and he signed up for the advanced riders course, passed with flying colors and was able to unlearn this habit quickly and safely under the watchful eye of a trained professional!
Share below your stories of mentoring or being mentored. We love to hear from you!